mlsimmons

I’m Melanie and I like to live vicariously through fictional characters. I enjoy reading and listening to mostly fictional books in the paranormal genre, including Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and Horror. I will read contemporary romance on occasion, but not often. I will occasionally throw in a biography, usually autobiographies of people that I find interesting. Listening to autobiographies that are narrated by the author have been great in my experience.

The Gifted Dead (Gifted, #1) by Jenna Black

The Gifted Dead - Jenna Black

I was so excited for a chance to review this book for Jenna Black.  I've read most of her books and enjoyed all of them.  I even enjoyed her young adult Faeriewalker series, and I'm not a huge fan of the young adult genre.

 

I will start off saying that I had a hard time with this book at the beginning, but that could've been me.  I was reading for twenty minutes here and thirty minutes there. So I had a hard time getting into the characters and who was who, etc. However, once I sat down and got to read for extended periods of time, I devoured this book.

 

This book is a combination of political twist and corruption, but with a twist of magic. I've even seen it compared with House of Cards, which I can see if you just add magic.  For years, the Gifted have been the lesser of the two and were treated as witches and the like.  Now, the Gifted and UnGifted live in an unsteady peace.  The Gifted have their own ruling council, but they no longer have the power that they once did, since they now have to follow UnGifted laws, just like everyone else.

 

People are given gifts that the Anima feels that person will need at some point in their life.  The Anima is almost like the Force (from Star Wars, not the best description, but that is the closest analogy I could think of), but with more sentience to it.  It is composed of the spirits of those deemed worthy of consecration.  If you are deemed unworthy, you are cremated. The problem is, that someone is going around and digging up consecrated graves and burning the bodies with his Gift.  This would remove that spirit from the Anima, and that spirit would no longer be available as a Spirit Guide to the living Gifted.

 

Gifts are given to people as they complete a quest.  The number of quests that a person gets is, once again determined by the Anima. The quest that is required is also determined by the Anima. Everything is done for a reason.  Gifted trust when the Anima send them on a quest, they generally do it without hesitation.  It is a religion to the Gifted.  If the Anima, tells you to kill someone, you do it and you will be rewarded with a new Gift.

 

This book has a lot of well-developed characters.  It is hard to keep some of them straight.  There are of family ties between different people and who has more power in the family.  The plot was very suspenseful with a lot of plot twists.  The story also takes place in several different parts of the world.

 

I can't wait to see where this story goes in the next book.  There is a small thread that is left open for book two.  I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries with political machinations with a paranormal twist.



**Book was provided to me by the author. This review is my opinion and was not requested or provoked in anyway by the author.

Guest Blog with PNR Author Zoe Winters

Saying Goodbye To Characters As New Readers Discover Them

 

I haven't done a guest blog in so long, I honestly have no idea what I'm doing.

 

I started writing a series eight years ago and decided that I didn't need no stinkin' publisher, and I was going to publish it myself. (This was before doing that became remotely cool.)

 

It didn't start out as a series. I wrote the second book first. Then I put it on a shelf. Then I wrote a novella that didn't seem related. But eventually these disparate threads came together to create a world and characters that I've loved now for nearly a decade.

 

And also I can't believe that Anthony (if you've read the series, you know him), has ended up being the sort of de facto main character of the back story. He's in all but one book, usually driving the plot in a villainous way. ;)

 

I woke up about a week ago and realized... holy crap, this is the last book. I mean, I knew it was the last book, but since my next project (a dark paranormal serial) occurs kind of in the same world, I thought if characters made the occasional cameo appearance or got mentioned that it would be the same.

 

But it wouldn't be the whole gang getting together like they had before. And I realized that it was like all my friends were moving away. (Cue the tiny violins.)

 

Completing a series is both very sad and elating. It's a goodbye, but it's also the accomplishment of completing a very long journey and proving to yourself that once you start something, you can and will finish it. It's also a trust-building exercise with readers. I've heard from a lot of readers that they won't start reading a series until at least three or four books are out. This was disheartening when I started, but I understand now. (Also, I want to say... "Hey guys? Done now. You can start reading!")

 

It's hard to fall in love with characters and a series only to see it abandoned by the author or publisher or both. But completion let's readers know they can trust you, and I hope that those who have traveled much of this journey with me consider me to have earned their trust.

 

As the series developed, the theme began to emerge: "Everyone is the hero of his own story (and the villain of somebody else's)"

 

A hero in one book often is a villain in another because they all have disparate goals and interests in a paranormal world unsettled by power struggles and the threat of the humans.

 

Technically, the books can be read in any order since they focus on different couples, so if you're knew to me, you can jump in with the new book, since it's on sale.

 

I've looked forward to writing Unleash The Moon for a long time. It's the son and daughter of two other couples in the series and occurs 26 years in the future. Actually, let me just do the big book description thing... because I'll just ramble if I try to explain it on the fly...

 

Unleash the Moon

 

... Can two souls trapped in separate cages ever find each other?

 

Twenty-six years have passed since the link between heaven and earth was severed and all hell broke loose. The fighting raged until the human magic users took over the cities, driving most of the preternaturals into hiding.

 

This is the world Sydney Burgess has grown up in, locked inside her father's compound. As the daughter of a human mother and a vampire king, she has all the weaknesses of a vampire but none of their strengths. Anthony keeps her on a tight leash, ever-vigilant against the constant imagined threats to her safety. But all she wants is to break free and start a real life.

 

Noah Riley has lived in captivity for the past twenty years, so long he barely knows how to be a werewolf anymore. Even with a photographic memory, most of his past before the facility feels fuzzy at best. His strongest memories are of the little girl he protected during his childhood: Sydney. When he reaches his full power on his twenty-eighth birth moon, he'll have a chance to break free to find her and finally reunite with his family.

 

But vampires and werewolves are mortal enemies. Even if Sydney is Noah's true mate, the vampire king would kill him before he ever let a filthy werewolf near her, especially one of questionable sanity.

 

 

Unleash The Moon is now available on pre-order.  http://zoewintersbooks.com/2014/10/16/unleash-the-moon-now-available-for-pre-order-intro-pre-order-price-2-99/

 

The regular retail price for my novel-length work is $4.95, but now through release day (November 5th), the book will be $2.99. If it looks interesting to you, you might want to lock it in at the sale price!

 

 

If you are interested in learning about the rest of the series, reading order, as well as retailers for my work, can be found here: http://zoewintersbooks.com/books-in-the-preternaturals-series/

 

And now that I've been all blah blah blah me me me buy my book... I would like to do a giveaway. Two giveaways, actually, to commenters in the comment section:

 

First, I'd like to give a signed print copy of Unleash The Moon to a fan of my series. (To be determined by any question in the comments that makes it clear you've read the books. Please put SPOILERS if your question contains any spoilers and I will put SPOILERS ahead of any answer.)

 

Then I'd also like to give a signed print copy of Blood Lust (the first book in the series) to someone who is new to me. You can make any comment in the comments section to indicate interest in that.

 

Thank you for reading and supporting my work!

 

Here are some places you can find me online: http://zoewintersbooks.com/about-the-author-2/

Sector Four is On Sale for a limited time!

★★★ LIMITED TIME SALE: Two books for 99 cents! ★★★

With BEYOND POSSESSION just around the corner, it seems like a great time for a sale! Through the end of October, you can get BEYOND SHAME for free and BEYOND CONTROL for just 99 cents.

Broken Circle VIPs, spread the word to anyone who needs some Dallas, Lex, Jas & Noelle in their lives, because it won't get cheaper than this.  Read more about the books from the author's website.

★ Book One: Beyond Shame: FREE! ★

Amazon: http://krocha.link/free-amz
Amazon UK: http://krocha.link/free-amz-uk
BN: http://krocha.link/free-bn
Kobo: http://krocha.link/free-kobo
iBooks: http://krocha.link/free-ibooks

If you purchase this free ebook from Amazon, you can then go to Audible for $2.99 for the audio: http://www.audible.com/pd/Erotica-Sexuality/Beyond-Shame-Audiobook/B00B1HUOT8/ 


★ Book Two: Beyond Control: 99 cents ★
Amazon: http://krocha.link/99-amz
Amazon UK: http://krocha.link/99-amz-uk
BN: http://krocha.link/99-bn
Kobo: http://krocha.link/99-kobo
iBooks: http://krocha.link/99-ibooks

If you purchase this ebook for $0.99 from Amazon, you can then go to Audible to get the audio for an additional $2.99: http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Beyond-Control-Audiobook/B00I5QGTMO/ 

Outfoxed by Love (Kodiak Point #2) by Eve Langlais

Outfoxed by Love (Kodiak Point Book 2) - Eve Langlais

This book was even better than book one.  This series takes place in Alaska in the town of Kodiak Point, which is inhabited mostly by shifters.  The hero of the first novel is the alpha of all species of shifter and is a Kodiak bear who mates a human turned polar bear.

 

In this book, it actually starts with an event that happens about three-quarters of the way through book one.  Jan, our heroine of this book and an Arctic fox, and book one's heroine crash the truck.  Jan is on the run from the enemy and has shifted to escape better on foot.  She is not a girly girl at all, even though everyone seems to think she is.  Her father taught her how to hunt, not just as a fox, but with guns.  She is as wily as her shifter beast would suggest.

 

Boris, is the right hand of our alpha.  They met in military.  Oh, and Boris is a moose.  Don't let the fact that he is an herbivore make you think he isn't an alpha.  He is totally an alpha.

 

This is a great shifter PNR story.  It has suspense, humor and sexiness. Langlais does a great job with not only the main characters, but the side characters, as in the families are hilarious.  I highly recommend this series to all shifter fans. I would also recommend that you start with book one of the series.

Reading progress update: I've listened 146 out of 421 minutes.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride - Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner

The amount of work that Cary and Mandy Patinkin put in for the sword fighting scene is amazing.  They practiced for months.

 

Also a great story about Andre the Giant passing out in the hotel lobby, drunk after drinking like four bottles of wine or something.  The hotel couldn't figure out how to move him, so they put velvet ropes around him and just left him.  He woke the next morning and went home.

 

I'm loving this book. I think I will have a new appreciation for the movie after listening.

Reading progress update: I've listened 19 out of 421 minutes.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride - Cary Elwes, Joe Layden, Rob Reiner

First thing that comes to mind while listening to Cary Elwes read this, "Unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with a British accent."

Gray Bishop (Cornerstone Run Trilogy #2) by Kelly Meade

Gray Bishop - Kelly Meade, Kelly Meding

I loved book one of this series and couldn't wait to get my hands on this book, though I'll be honest, I was more excited to get book three.  The story of the white wolf and the tragedy that Knight has gone through really made me want to read his story.  My real goal was to get through this one to get to the next.  Boy, I was mistaken.  This story was amazing and gives new meaning to tragic.

 

This story picks up right where book one leaves off.  Cornerstone is trying to recover from the attacks from the hybrids.  The loupe garou have it tough recently.  One town is completely gone with a single survivor. Another lost more than half it's numbers.  They at least know now what they are facing and what their enemies are after.  That will make things easier, right? WRONG.

 

Our heroine of this book is Jillian Reynolds, the daughter of the Springwell alpha.  She is a widow and a black wolf.  She is set to be the next alpha female for Springwell, but she needs to find a nice black wolf male to mate and replace her late husband.  Problem is, her wolf really likes Bishop McQueen, the eldest son of the Cornerstone alpha. 

 

Normally, gray wolves wouldn't become alpha, but since it looked like there wasn't going to be a black wolf in the McQueen family, as Rook was born many years later and didn't shift for even longer to see that he was black, Bishop was being groomed to take over when his father retired.  It then seems that things are in the air as to whether Rook or Bishop was going to take over as alpha.  However, in the previous book, Rook takes a mate that is not loup garou, he cannot be alpha.  That puts future alpha solely back on Bishop.

 

It seems that no matter how much Jillian and Bishop's wolves insist that they belong together, it doesn't seem like it will be possible as they both have separate runs that they need to lead.  Tragedy happens and things change for all involved.

 

The story that is told here is so enveloping that you get lost in the pages and the world of the loup garou.  The story is dark, very dark.  There is so much death and despair, that we are starting to get numbers like Game of Thrones.  There is a sadness that made me go get the tissues. It is a great story and you can see how the characters over come the tragedy that is laid before them.

 

I highly recommend this series for shifter fans who are not opposed to violence and sadness in their stories.  All that sadness is worth the great story and character growth that comes from tragedy. 

 

I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reblogged from SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews :

I do this for movies or TV shows based on books.

Reading progress update: I've read 368 out of 432 pages.

Visions - Kelley Armstrong

"A gang leader's son and the serial killers' daughter walk into a police station"  That does sound like a "walk into a bar" joke.

Red (Transplanted Tales #1) by Kate SeRine

Red - Kate SeRine

I got this book as a limited time special free purchase from Amazon.

 

This story has a very interesting premise.  You have literary characters showing up in real life.  Red, is Little Red Riding Hood (bet you didn't see that one coming).  This reminded me a lot of the TV show Once Upon a Time.  This does include a wider selection of characters, including Dracula, Mr Darcy, Juliet and The Grim Reaper.

 

The story has promise, but I was never entranced in the story.  I don't really love the characters, but I don't hate them.  I do like the world that is built around them.  I will be checking to see if I can find the other books through the library.  I would like to see if the plot and character development get better.

The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies #1) by K.J. Charles

The Magpie Lord - K.J. Charles

I picked up this book as part of the Wizard's book club put on by @WizardBooks (who is the fabulous author Tiffany Reisz). She doesn't write PNR, but loves wizards and hence started this book club.  This was the first book and I'm so glad she picked it.  I don't know think I would've found this one on my own.

 

This book had great characters.  Our first hero was the black sheep of his predominate family.  Normally that would make you a bad person.  Well, Lucian was exiled to China from his English family because the family was not so nice and Lucian didn't fit with their ways.  When both his father and brother die, Lucian inherits not only their land and title, but also their enemies.

 

Stephen Day comes to help Lucian with some of his magical problems, but isn't real happy about it.  After all, the Vaudrey family has done some pretty bad things to the Day family.  There is an uneasy attraction between Dan and Lucian from the get go, but with people trying to kill Lucian does put a damper on things.

 

Also, there is Merrick.  He is a secondary character in this story, and I have thing for them.  He is Lucian's servant.  He is very loyal to Lucian, but there is no romance or anything between them.  I LOVED Merrick.  He was my favorite character, by far.

 

This story has it all.  The plot is suspenseful.  The characters are intriguing and lovable.  The banter between the three men is hilarious.  The sex between just the two is hot.  This book was a page turner.  Thanks again to Tiffany Reisz for pointing me towards this book.  I will be looking for book two.

The Witch with No Name (The Hollows, #13) by Kim Harrison Audiobook Review

The Witch with No Name (Hollows) - Kim Harrison

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

4.5 stars for story

4.5 stars for narration

4.5 stars overall

 

Title: The Witch with No Name (The Hollows 13)

Author: Kim Harrison

Narrator: Marguerite Gavin                                   

Publisher: Harper Audio

Unabridged

Length: 17 hours 28 minutes

Publication: 9/9/14

Genre: UF

Heat Level: Hot

 

**No Spoilers

 

I can't believe it is over.  I've been reading this series for the past six plus years.  It was one of the first series I started not long after I really got back into reading a lot.  It will be really weird not having Rachel, Jenks and the gang going forward.  Ending a series can be tough.  I've read several series where I've thought that the ending didn't do the series justice, that was not the case with The Witch with No Name.

 

Harrison wraps everything up really well.  Throughout the entire series, Rachel has been trying to figure out how to save the undead vampire souls.  That storyline continues into this book.  We learn a lot more about the history of the elves, demons and the war between the two species.  There is also more on surface demons, undead vampires and the Ever After.  All your questions throughout the series are pretty much wrapped up nicely, but not easily.

 

The vast majority of characters that we've fallen in love with make an appearance in this book, some more than others.  Trent, Jenks, Bis, Ivy and Nina get the most page time.  Newt, Al and even Dali see a good about of time with Rachel, too.  I would've like to spend more time with David.  I always liked him and wanted to see more of him throughout the series.  Even Ellasbeth is back, yuck.  

 

My one complaint, I wish the last chapter was title "epilogue". It took me a second to figure out what was going on, because there a large jump in the timeline for the last chapter.  It was a small thing, but I would have understood the time jump much quicker with a different chapter title.

 

This is one of my favorite UF series of all time.  Rachel is a great character, even if she is always in trouble.  Jenks is my FAVORITE secondary character in all Urban Fantasy series.  He really brings so much to the story.  He is loyal, loving and adds tons of comic relief.  He never allowed Rachel to get down on herself.

 

Narration

The narration was great as it has always been.  Marguerite Gavin does a great job with both men and women's voices.  She always shows the proper emotion for the scene she is reading and her pace is perfect.  Once  again, Jenks is my favorite.  She gives him a high-pitched voice of a pixie, but still masculine, which has got to be difficult.  How she can say, "Tinks little pink dildo" with a straight face and in that voice, I'll never know.  I also love Al's voice.  "Motherpussbucket" is another word that is hard for me to say with a straight face.  I'm really glad they have been able to keep her on for the full series (except The Outlaw Demon Wails, which is book six).  I will be looking to see what else Gavin has narrated to see how I like her in other series.

Source: http://www.hotlistens.com/the-witch-with-no-name-audiobook-by-kim-harrison-review

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1) by Jim Butcher Audiobook Review

Storm Front - Jim Butcher

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

3.5 stars for story

3.5 stars for narration

3.5 stars overall

 

Title: Storm Front (Dresden Files #1)

Author: Jim Butcher

Narrator: James Marsters                                 

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp.

Unabridged

Length: 8 hours 1 minutes

Publication: 6/10/09

Genre: UF

Heat Level: Warm

 

I read this book many years ago, but never picked up any other books from the series.  I have no idea why.  I enjoyed this book.  I have heard so many great things about the series and even the narrator, so I decided that I should give it a try on audio.  I did go back to listen to book one because it had been so long, I knew I would never remember what was going on the series.

 

Harry Dresden is a wizard.  He is even listed as one in the phone book.  He helps his clients with magical problems.  He is a consultant for the Chicago PD.  Things get a little hairy when Harry has to help investigate magical murders where he could be one of the prime suspects.

 

Dresden has to help protect the public from some pretty weird magic.  He has to do some things he isn't happy about.  He loses the trust of one his few friends.  He has the governing council of wizards after him.  Things don't look good for him.

 

Overall, I enjoyed this story, though it didn't set my world on fire.  I'm definitely intrigued and want to see more of what is going to happen to Harry Dresden.  Is he able to heal some of the relationships that he damaged in this book?  What other crazy cases does he end up working.  I love police with magical twist, so I think this has a lot of potential.  I have already requested book two from my library, there is a waiting list for it.

 

Narration

You might recognize the name, James Marsters.  He is also known as Spike from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show.  His narration was different than what I am used to, but it worked for this series.  He had a bit of a guy next door voice for Dresden and there was some breathing and sighing that would normally annoy me, but seemed like something Harry Dresden would do, so it fit.  I would like to see Marsters do a better job with women's voices, but there are not a lot of women in this series, so far, so it wasn't too bad.

Source: http://www.hotlistens.com/storm-front-audiobook-by-jim-butcher-review

The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny, #1) by Jeaniene Frost Audiobook Review

The Beautiful Ashes - Jeaniene Frost

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

3.5 stars for story

3.5 stars for narration

3.5 stars overall

 

Title: The Beautiful Ashes (Broken Destiny #1)

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Narrator: Tavia Gilbert                                  

Publisher: Blackstone Audio

Unabridged

Length: 8 hours 21 minutes

Publication: 8/26/14

Genre: New Adult/UF

Heat Level: Warm

 

When I heard that Frost was writing a new series, I was all over reading it.  Then I heard that Tavia Gilbert was narrating, so I knew I would be listening to this.  While I enjoyed this book, it was no Cat & Bones story.

 

Ivy has been seeing things her entire life.  She always thought they were hallucinations. She finds out that they are real and her life is turned upside down.  She is the last of a bloodline that allows her to see these demons.  She runs into Adrian who offers to help her find her sister.

 

Adrian is also the last of a bloodline, but his bloodline gives him a fate that is not a good thing.  He has been fighting his fated future for a while and it only seems harder when he meets Ivy. He knows that he is going to betray Ivy and has tried to convince her to stay away from him.

 

There is an impossible romance between Ivy and Adrian.  While we have the fast-paced action of trying to find Ivy's missing sister, there is a lot of world-building as we learn along with Ivy about this world of demons, angels and humans with exceptional bloodlines.  Ivy makes new friends along the way.  There are also some losses, as well.

 

Narration

I love Gilbert's narration of the Night Huntress series and the other books from the Cat & Bones world.  She really fits those characters really well.  However, I just didn't get into her portrayal of these characters as much.  I don't think she got Ivy's naivete. I did like some of the characters voices. I think that I could get use to the narration as I get more into the story.  It wasn't bad, just not as good as the Night Huntress books.

Source: http://www.hotlistens.com/the-beautiful-ashes-audiobook-by-jeanienefros-review

Gravity (Mageri, #4) by Dannika Dark Audiobook Review

Gravity - Dannika Dark

My review and an extended sample of the audiobook are posted at Hotlistens.com.

 

This series continues to get better and better.  If you read my last review of this series, you saw that I thought book three, while good, felt a little bit like a filler book.  The story didn't really seem to progress much.  That is not the case with book four.  

 

While we have Silver and Logan's relationship building to ever more levels, a former nemesis of Logan's named Tarek shows up and has revenge on his agenda.  His plan is to take Silver and make her his mate.  He wants to hurt Logan as much as possible.  Since Logan took Tarek's fated mate, because Tarek didn't want her, Tarek feels that taking Logan's love would be great revenge.  He threatens all of Silver's friends if she doesn't comply.

 

We also have a relationship brewing between Justus and Page, who was Silver's healer.  She is not affected by Justus's gift. As a charmer, women are drawn to him.  He never knows if women truly like them or if it is just his gift.  He finally found someone who he knows likes him and the good news is that he was attracted to her before he figured this out.

 

We continue to learn more about Silver's heritage. This story also brings Sunny, Knox and Adam back into the story.  Christian, Silver's vampire guard who I love, plays a very large role in this book.  There is tons of happiness, but not without tragedy, so have your tissues ready.

 

There is one more book in this series before we end the world of Silver and her friends.  This has been a great journey.  I can't wait to see where it ends.  So far, each book has been better that the last.  I'm really hoping that we can end this series with a bang.

 

Narration

Once again, I think Nicole Poole is good choice for this series. She continues to bring forth the emotions of the characters, of which there are many in this story.  Great job with both men and women.  I love her voice of Christian, who has a large part in this book.


I like to thank Tantor Audio for providing me with a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Source: http://www.hotlistens.com/gravity-audiobook-by-dannika-dark-review

Reading progress update: I've listened 647 out of 647 minutes.

Immortal - J.R. Ward

The end of the series, but I expect we will see some characters in future BDB books.

Currently reading

Prisoner
Skye Warren, Annika Martin
Burn for Me
Ilona Andrews


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