Where have I been?

Hello Phooka Pals,

I wanted to give an explanation for my absence this last month.  I took my dream vacation to Scotland toward the end of May (I will post a few pictures this week.)

Shortly after returning home, I found out that my ex-husband (my Son’s father), who has been fighting brain cancer for the last couple years, had taken a drastic turn for the worst while I was gone.  Everything seemed to happen very quickly after that, and I’m very sorry to say that he has since passed away.

It has been a tough month, especially for my son, and my attention has been needed elsewhere.

I will get back in the swing of things in the near future, and I hope to start posting reviews again later this week.  Thank you for your patience!

Sincerely,

Holjo

Posted in News and Press Releases | 2 Comments

Review: Shadowfever, by Karen Marie Moning

  • Title: Shadowfever
  • Author: Karen Marie Moning
  • Series: Fever Series #5
  • Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
  • Category: Celtic, Fae
  • Website: www.karenmoning.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

I felt a little sad when I finished reading this book because I’m not quite ready to give up the Fever world and the characters. Contrary to a few of the other reviewers, I was glad this book was so long. I didn’t mind all of Mac’s inner dialog because I wanted this book to last as long as possible.

I was happy with how KMM finished the series. She resolved all of the issues that were the most important, with nothing being predictable. The twists and turns kept me guessing up until the very end. She did leave a few items unresolved, which was nice as well. It felt like there was a still a future for these characters after the series was over.

**************Spoiler Alert****************
I wasn’t originally going to write any spoilers, but someone noted that my original review was not helpful, so I’ve decided to elaborate and revise my review.

I liked how KMM resolved the Unseelie King mystery. No matter how sure Mac was that she was the UK, I never believed it. However, when it got to the last couple chapters and no one else had been identified as the King, I really did start to wonder if we would ever know. I did not see it coming that the UK was acually a combination of many characters (not saying who!) – or that he looked different to everyone. I loved this twist. It was great (and a little creepy) that he had been watching her for as long as he had.

I felt sure that Dani would have a plot twist because she was such a consistent character in the story, but I did not see her as a human killer. That was a shock, as was the fact that she hadn’t covered her tracks which didn’t seem to match her character. This part of the story seemed a little rushed to me because it happened so close to the end that it could not be explored much. For this reason, I’m a little concerned that Dani may have a key role in KMM’s next series about the Fever world, and I know I wouldn’t enjoy reading a book written in Dani’s slang. My one negative comment on this book was that Dani’s POV broke the flow of the book – the slang made it halting to read.

I did guess that there was some kind of War/Cruce/V’Lane/4th Rapist connection. I had no idea how or when it would be discovered, but Ultimately I thought it was done well. It played out in a way that explained all of the back story, motivations, and how it was accomplished. Once this mystery was solved, I could go back and identify all the forshadowing in the previous books.

One of the open-ended plot twists was Christian becomming non-human. He clearly does not want this, but at the end there is no resolution for him. I hope this means he’ll have his own story in the next series.

The other major open-ended storyline is that neither the Unseelie King or the Seelie Queen will be resuming their Royal duties any time soon. My hope is that they will eventually both take their

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thrones and join the light and dark sides of the Fae world together. But who knows?? I’m sure we haven’t read the last of these two.

The character of Barrons is one of my favorite book characters of all time. I could read another dozen books about him. My favorite male characters are always the reformed bad boys. It’s not that Barrons would ever be actually reformed, but the fact that he finally fell in love after hundreds of years of living – well, that hits me right in the heart.

I’m looking forward to KMM’s next series! I love how she writes.

Posted in Celtic, Highlander, Druid, Fae, Top Rated Books - 5 Cups | Leave a comment

Review: The Outlaw Demon Wails, by Kim Harrison

  • Title: The Outlaw Demon Wails
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Series: The Hollows #6
  • Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
  • Category: Witch, Demon, Vampire, Other
  • Website: www.kimharrison.net
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.net

I thought that the first few books in this series were a little up and down with content and plot, but with this book, Kim Harrison has found her stride without a doubt. This makes 2 books in a row that I’m giving a 5 star rating to.

Normally I make a “like” and “dislike” list in my reviews, but there really wasn’t anything I disliked about this book. I thought it did a great job of wrapping up some old plot lines, adding new characters, creating new plot lines, and explaining enough background to give depth to the whole series.

I liked that KH brought back Marshal from a previous book. He didn’t have much presense in this story, but it did give him the foundation to be in future books. Unfortunately I’m suspicous of him, but I think that is simply because nobody in Rachel’s life is simple.

I thought Rachel’s Mom was wonderful. Actually, I thought she was really funny and smart. I would enjoy reading more of her in future books. I also liked that Rachel’s brother Robbie was discussed more in depth. I hope that means he’ll come into play at some point in the future as well.

Probably my favorite part of this book was that the will-I-or-Won’t-I back and forth between Ivy and Rachel is FINALLY resolved. I was getting tired of the wishy-washy feeling of their indecision. It was definitely time to put that storyline on the shelf and I really hope it stays there. I had reached a point of not caring what the outcome was, just as long as they reached one. Happily, they did.

Turns out that Rachel has a few family secrets that needed to come to light. KH did a great job of tying together some of the clues in previous books with regards to Rachel’s past. Everything is making more sense now, and I understand more of the things that frustrated me about previous books.

******************spoiler alert**********************

I have enjoyed the demon interaction since Al first made an appearance, and even when he has been at his worst, I have still liked his character. I’m really glad that he and Rachel have finally reached an arrangement. This should mean plenty of demon storyline in the next books. It should also mean that that Rachel will learn some cool new demon magic.

So on to my love-hate relationship with Trent….. now that Kisten is gone (sad), I’m back to hoping Trent

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and Rachel will wind up together at the end of this Hallows story. I loved Kisten’s character, but I’ve given up hope that he’ll magically wind up still alive. Besides, I think that Trent and Rachel’s relationship could wind up having a deaper purpose – like uniting Elf and Demon blood might bring a truce in the ever after.

Overall it was a great read and I’m excited for the next story to see how Rachel handles her new role. I’m also dying to find out who killed Kisten and why. I suspect the master demon who Rachel met during her trip to Michigan. We shall see…..

Posted in Angels or Demons, Top Rated Books - 5 Cups, Vampire, Witch, Warlock | Leave a comment

Review: Lover Avenged, by JR Ward

  • Title: Lover Avenged
  • Author: JR Ward
  • Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #7
  • Genre: Adult, Paranormal Romance
  • Category: Vampires
  • Website: www.jrward.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, betterworldbooks.com

I am so thrilled with book 7 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. The last two books disheartened me a little, but this one was the best of everything I have loved about this series.

The primary storyline is the love story between Rehvenge and Ehlena. I was a little nervous about this pairing because Rehvenge has been a little bit of a wild card for me in previous books. Being a half-sympath-half-vamp, his sympath side gets his kicks out of mind games and pain. He’s being sexually and financially blackmailed by his half-sister (who is a full sympath), so he maintains some very deviant business practices to meet the demands of his blackmailer. I don’t know why I worried because this love story was really romantic and sexy. I liked Ehlena too – she is strong and relatable.

For these two to be together, they have to deal with murders, kidnapping, blackmail, and a great deal of prejudice. Lucky for us, the brothers are involved from the very beginning.

One of the things I’ve liked about this series from the start has been the strength of the subplots. They’ve never felt less important or less intense than the primary storyline, and this book is a perfect example of that. Wrath and Beth are in the spotlight again as well. We also get to read more of Tohrment’s story and also John’s story. It was fabulous.

*******************spoiler alert********************

There is so much going on in this book that I couldn’t write a review without a few spoilers.

I’ve been waiting for John to lose his virginity for several books now, so I was thrilled that he finally seals the deal with Xhex but then heartbroken that it gets so messed up. It was so tough to read about John’s fall into bitterness and anger. He turns into a total jerk. And what’s just as bad is that he takes Quinn down with him, and I had such high hopes for Quinn and Bray. I sure hope these three guys can get their act together in the next book. Considering the big cliffhanger at the end of this book involving Xhex and the new lesser king, I’m pretty sure these three boys are finally going to have their own adventure.

Another great addition is Payne. She has been eluded to in previous books, but this is the first time she has a purpose. Fighting with Wrath after he becomes totally blind gives him some of his independence back, and allows him to relearn his technique without a visual. For Payne, we know that she is fighting because she is just plain bored being on the other side. Personally, I’m thrilled that there is another female fighter in the series. And, because she is the daughter of the scribe virgin, she technically could fight for the brotherhood.

*********************End Spoilers***********************

I didn’t have any complaints at all about this book. It was so awesome. There was a ton of action, a ton of twists and turns, and a ton of suspense. I loved

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that some of the core characters got some page time again. I loved that the oppression in the story came from the many bad guys rather than from self-inflicted inner turmoil (as in a couple of the previous books), and I loved that Ward didn’t throw in any new paranormal elements. With this book we get a good solid Brotherhood story and more than one good solid Love story. Lover Avenged was also the longest book so far, so we get a lot more content.

I highly recommend this series for fans of Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Thrillers. This is definitely an adult series because of the sexual scenes and violence.

Posted in Top Rated Books - 5 Cups, Vampire | Leave a comment

Review: Black Magic Sanction, by Kim Harrison

  • Title: Black Magic Sanction
  • Author: Kim Harrison
  • Series: The Hollows #8
  • Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
  • Category: Witch, Demon, Vampire, Other
  • Website: www.kimharrison.net
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

Black Magic Sanction was better than book 7, but for me it is still falling short of the success of earlier books in the series. Remembering the earlier books, Rachel was the hunter in search of the bad guys – she wouldn’t give up until she put the bad guys behind bars and got paid. It’s hard to remember that Rachel anymore because now she is always the one being hunted and must remain on the defense instead of the offense.

I was glad that this book gave more time to the core characters I’ve liked from the beginning – Al and Trent. I was pleased that there FINALLY was no relationship defining junk between Ivy and Rachel for once (and even more pleased that Ivy has a healthy romantic relationship of her own finally.) I was glad not to have any more of the repetitive vamps-playing-on-Rachel’s-scar storyline from any vamp. I liked that there was an acceptable way for Jenks to extend his life that tied into his actions from a previous book. I liked that Ceri was back in action for a while even though it was short lived. I also like that Rachel is chosing a witch

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for a boyfriend instead of a human or a vamp because at least there is a potential for a future (even though I think the relationship itself is lame.) These were the positives in the book for me.

I was sort of neutral about Nick’s presence in this book. He is a character that I love to hate, and of course he did not disappoint in that respect. I didn’t mind him being back in the story again, but since he never changes, it isn’t exciting having him there either. It’s just the same stuff. Repetitive.

On the negative side, I’m not thrilled about Rachel’s relationship with Pierce because it seems like a repeat of Marshall. Once again, we find a man who is falling all over himself to save Rachel and prove his feelings to her even after she rejects him over and over again. I guess we know that if someone follows her around like a puppy for long enough, he’ll eventually get her to cave. Maybe that is why Pierce didn’t give up – he saw first hand as a ghost that Marshall and Kisten both wound up in a relationship with Rachel eventually just from following her around enough. He must have realized that it was just a matter of time for him as well. We know that Al feels that way too.

***************spoiler alert***************

I thought that Matalina’s death was very sad. We’ve been expecting this for a while since she has been ill for a few books. I’m not really clear though why she was unwilling to take the curse that would prolong her life. I don’t believe she would make that choice because Pixies would not leave their partner by choice – that was made very clear – so I don’t think Matalina would leave Jenks behind if there was a way that she didn’t have to.

Also, in reference to Matalina’s death, I almost laughed out loud at Rachel’s attempts to comfort Jenks. I really can’t believe she dared to compare her mourning of Kisten (a man she dated for about 3 months) to Jenks’ loss of his his wife (a woman he had been married to for his entire adult life, had dozens of children with, and couldn’t live without.) This was a joke. Rachel hasn’t had a single relationship that would compare to the emotional connection of Jenks’ marriage by any stretch of the imagination. Kisten was one of many men in Rachel’s life, she never thought of him in terms of forever. Matalina was the one and only woman in Jenks’s life. I think Rachel was treating Jenks like he had lost a pet rather than his wife, and this really bothered me.

Overall, I think I’m just getting tired of this series. I read this book because I had hoped Kim Harrison could bounce back from book 7 being so terrible. It was better. But I am ready to wrap this up now. I’m ready to find out exactly what Rachel’s fate is and how she is going to react to it. I’m ready to find out if she is going to end up in a lasting relationship or end up alone. It’s time for some real answers, and I don’t want to read any more books that drag this out for (seemingly) no other reason than to sell more books. Making a series longer isn’t the same as making it better. Long doesn’t equal quality. So for that reason, I’ve decided not to read any more books in this series until the last book is published. I’ll buy the last book to see how it wraps up, but thats it for me.

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Review: Faefever, by Karen Marie Moning

  • Title: Faefever
  • Author: Karen Marie Moning
  • Series: Fever Series #3
  • Genre: Adult, Urban Fantasy
  • Category: Celtic, Fae
  • Website: www.karenmoning.com
  • Purchase: Amazon, BetterWorldBooks.com

Once again I am so glad that I didn’t find this series until all 5 books were published. I thought the cliffhanger at the end of the 2nd book was torture – it was NOTHING compared to the ending of this book. I’ve barely slept this weekend because I keep picking up the next book as soon as one ends.

Note to self: In future, only buy Karen Marie Moning books once the whole series is published.

It is an AWESOME story. Secrets are still being kept and I imagine they will continue to be until the last book. The main character doesn’t automatically save the day, which makes this book totally unpredictable. And best of all, the author has the readers falling in love with characters that we don’t even know are good or bad. We don’t know if we can trust them or

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not or who’s side they are on.

Read this series!!

Posted in Celtic, Highlander, Druid, Fae, Top Rated Books - 5 Cups | Leave a comment