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Danielle's Reading Adventures

Reading is my favorite hobby, hands down. Books are love to me.  I am an avid collector, and paper books will always edge out e-books with me.

It's All in the Brushstrokes!

Wallflower Most Wanted - Manda Collins

Add a beautiful young painter and a handsome vicar who's a duke's son, throw in a dash of murder, and a sprinkle of art forgery, a Trumpian faux populist character, and there you have it.

This was enjoyable with clever writing and likable characters, but I felt like I had to keep putting it down. Could be me, with everything going on. I am looking forward to Gemma's story.

Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.

Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine: http://affairedecoeur.com.

Creeping Fear

Lockwood & Co.: The Creeping Shadow - Jonathan Stroud

I adore this series. I always look forward to the newest book. And I have to get these on audiobook because the narration is always excellent. I was not disappointed. At the end of "The Hollow Boy", Lucy leaves Lockwood and Co for what seems like good reasons at the time. She becomes an independent contractor ghost hunter and she's good at her job. But she's not happy, even with her glass jar skull for company. She misses the camaraderie of Lockwood and Co.: George, even Holly, and of course, Lockwood. But she left to keep them safe because her newer abilities to communicate with ghosts might cause her to make a mistake and get one of her friends hurt.

Lockwood shows up at her new digs and asks for her help with a case, and she agrees to help them out. It's one of their tougher cases, and Lucy finds her life in jeopardy shortly after, and realizing that she's more safe sticking with Lockwood and Co. until they fi

gure out who's trying to kill her. That's when their biggest case comes their way, a whole haunted village. They end up in a small town with serious ghost problems a conspiracy that will shake the foundations of the ghost hunting community.

I love how Stroud steadily builds on the foundation of the last book and the previous ones. The story just expands beautifully and he doesn't leave any plot elements dangling. While he turns a few things on their heads, it's organic as the reader realizes that things weren't as the characters thought or believed. The characters are very well developed and layered. While the main characters are all teens, they have a maturity that is realistic considering the world they live in and the dangers they face every day. Let's face it. The children are the ones on the frontline, confronting and dealing with the ghost Problem.

These books are delightfully eerie and downright chilling at times. Also, there's plenty of human menace. I mean, grownups trying to kill kids. How sick is that? While the paranormal elements are integral to the story, the heart of it is the characters. Everything is told from Lucy's point of view (it's 1st person), but the characters don't suffer from being seen through the typically narrow 1st person vantage point. Instead, they are richly described, with dialogue and action that shows you everything you need to know about them. Lucy also grows as a character as she faces significant challenges and comes to realizations about what she is and how to deal with the troubles she and her friends face. And that they are stronger together.

As with the last book, this has a nice conclusion but it also leaves the door open for the next book. Things are about to get even more intense, and I'm here for it.

Another book I'd love to see made into movies. And I just checked and it's going to be optioned for a tv series in the UK. This pleases me. Sadly, the next book is the last book. But all good things come to an end.

Highly recommend!
 
 
 

Dragon Love

Fury of Obsession (Dragonfury Series Book 5) - Coreene Callahan

I listened to the audiobook of this and I was underwhelmed. At first I was excited since it's interracial. The heroine is a beautiful, dark-skinned African American woman and the hero is a dragon shifter (Caucasian in human form) from Eastern Europe. I still dug that about the story even though I was overall disappointed. I think that the major issue is that it was too derivative for me. I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I like that it's had an impact on paranormal romance, but I would like to see an author inspired by these books to take to some diversions in storytelling that make their story more unique. While the author chose to inhabit her story with dragons of all kind, which was very cool, I felt like the style of storytelling, the number of subplots, and the set up of the group that Venom fights with is way too similar to the Brotherhood. There are characters that you can identify as certain BDB characters. Also, I feel that there is a lot of similarity to the Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian. Another issue I have with the story is the dropped plotlines. At the beginning of the book Evelyn is in trouble with some Russian gangsters. It's like that all goes away. I was really confused about that. And some of the point of views I could deal without. I don't mind if we see the villain's POV somewhat, but not if they're not that interesting. I would rather have a scene where Venom kicks the crap out of the Russian gangster. The plot resolution suffered and failed to impress me. It was very anticlimactic. When the book ended, I was like, that's it? Yeah, I was pretty disappointed with this. I'm interested in the one character who reminds me of John Matthew before his transition, I think his name in Osgood. I'd definitely read his book. Overall thoughts: The dragon aspect, good. Romance: pretty good. Sort of an instaluv vibe, but I can live with that. Characters: Mostly forgettable. Plotting: poor. Too many storylines. Narration: I give the narrator some points for enthusiasm and style, but his Scottish accent was ferociously bad. Some of his European accents sounded like a campy version of Vlad Tepes aka Dracula. But I liked him despite that. He was having fun and that made me have fun. Overall rating: 2.5/5.0 stars.

Sleepy Little Murder Town

Zero Day  - David Baldacci

I am a huge fan of the Will Robie series, so I thought I'd try the John Puller books. Plus action/adventure and suspense fans really recommend this series. John Puller is more like Jack Reacher than Will Robie. He's enlisted army and he's an investigator of crime scenes with military ties. His father is a three star general and his brother is in max security prison for treason. John is a by the books guy who follows the evidence. He is a decorated combat veteran with PTSD, but he manages to work past the flashback and triggers and uses the lessons he learned in Iraq to stay alive.

What seems like it should be a routine investigation into the murder of an Air Force officer and his family in one in a dying mining town in West Virginia leads to a conspiracy that goes much further and wider, and much deadlier.

Baldacci can write. John Puller is man of great self-control but he is no pushover. He can handle himself and is no fool. Highly intelligent and methodical in his work, he thinks on his feet and uses his logic and intuition expertly. I listened to the audiobook and the male narrator nails Puller. His diction is precise in speaking John's dialogue, making him feel distinct from other characters. The female narrator also does a good job, especially with the regional dialects. I liked having both a male and female narrator, because it gives the audiobook flow a vibrant energy.

The descriptions of the forgotten mining town and its citizens in comparison to the luxury enjoyed by the rich man who owns most of the town has a realism that grounds the story. The theme of broken promises and environmental rape and pillage, taking advantage of the workers and the townspeople for that extra dime in the pocket.

The suspense is expertly written. What starts as a grisly murder of a family that seems completely random leads to a climax that puts the lives of John, Samantha, the town sheriff, and the whole town and perhaps the region in jeopardy. The clock is ticking while Puller works to solve the puzzle of who, what, where and why.

The action is very good and it's balanced by a plot that is free of holes. I play a game when I read mysteries, trying to guess whodunit. I didn't guess this one, but fortunately John figures it out.

At first glance, John seems to be a very rigid guy, but glimpses of a sense of humor, empathy, pathos and vulnerability shine through his tough facade. His principles are rock solid, and it's clear that he doesn't like bullies or those who harm innocents. He's not moved by people who try to use their power and influence as bargaining chips. To him, bad is bad, no matter how big their bank accounts are. His relationship with his father is nuanced. His father is suffering from dementia and it's clear that interacting with his father through his fog of memory loss is very painful for John. But he's a man of duty and loyalty and honors his father, even when it's hard for him. I like John a lot. I'll be adding him to list of Kickbutt heroes.

I prefer Will Robie over John Puller, but I definitely enjoyed this book and plan on continuing to read it. It's just me, I like the Black Ops Asssassin trope a lot. But Puller is great for a procedural with a hero who is intellectual but also very capable of kicking butt. I think the mystery of Puller's brother Robert's treason a mystery worth delving into, and eventually I know that John will put his skills to work on it. John is a good 21st Century hero, a man of honor, integrity, intellect but also physical skills and capabilities that carry him through and make him an interesting and admirable lead character.

I'd recommend this to action/adventure suspense fans, especially for those look for an NCIS-style book.

Holding Grudges

Antigoddess - Kendare Blake
 

I read this back in September and I'm just now able to write a review. I really dug this book, well at least until the abrupt ending. If you're a fan of Greek Mythology, I'd consider it a must read. Blake does something very interesting with Greek myths and legends. It has some elements of reincarnation, which is normally a turnoff for me, but it was fairly well accomplished in the book. Well, one aspect was disturbing, the character had to die violently to recall who they were in their previous life.

Largely, this was a really exciting read. I haven't been reading much young adult lately because I'm not interested in high school life anymore. The good thing about this book is, these characters are technically teens, but most of the main characters are reincarnated personages from the Greek myths, so they act a lot more mature and have interests and concerns far beyond typical high school drama.

There are some unanswered questions, which I think is a standard tactic of a writer who's putting together a series. I just wish it wasn't so overused. Frankly, I get tired of the whole, "Keep Reading" tactic.

Another issue was Blake sort of picks and chooses which gods/goddesses she'll feature and to what degree. It's up to her as the author, but that was a bit of a letdown how she represented some of them. The curses or fates of some of the gods/goddesses were maliciously creative, and I won't even go into them, because that's part of the fun. I felt that overall the characterization is very strong for the main leads, not as much for the secondary and villainous characters. I especially liked the way that Blake humanized the ancient god/goddess figures and endowed the human (sort of) reincarnated characters with such depth.

Hera is always portrayed as a mega-bitch in just about everything. I've never been into Hera, but in a way it seems kind of sad that her reputation is so low. I would want to feel sorry for her, honestly, seeing as how she's the wife that's been cheated on by her lothario husband for many millennia. But she's always scheming and making peoples' lives miserable. In this she gets an update as a fashion forward Queen B who would fit right in with the One Percenters.

Athena and Hermes have strong points of view as they travel looking for the reincarnation of the person who could be the key to stopping the god or goddess behind the curse that is slowly killing them. They encounter high school student Cassandra, who is the key to their plan, and whose life and family is about to be in terrible danger, because Hera is headed her way.

This book has fantastic action and arresting imagery. The opening scene is the hook that grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I knew I wanted to finish this book just with the beginning. I just wish the ending wasn't so abrupt. I can't tell you how much of a buzzkill that is when you are reading a great book and then it sort of fizzles out. Maybe fizzle isn't the right word. This book goes from atomic explosion to the sizzle when you throw water on a campfire. I was confused at how fast things resolved. Having said that, I was hoping my library would have book two.

Yeah, so I'm giving it four stars because it really is a very good book. I wasn't happy with the ending, so that's why I took off a star. Despite that, I was really excited about this book and I could hardly put it down. This is one I think would make a great movie. Maybe someday soon.

I wanted to like "Anna Dressed in Blood" a lot more than I did. It was good, but it felt too derivative of popular horror movies for my tastes. I think that based on this novel, Blake has grown as an author, and I'm really excited to see where she goes from here.

 
 

Family Legacies

Carter & Lovecraft - Jonathan L. Howard

The Early 20th Century writer HP Lovecraft has spawned a whole sub-genre of horror dedicated to his ideas, often called the Cthulhu Mythos or Lovecraftian horror. Not surprising that nearly 100 years later, people are still re-imagining his work and characters. "Carter and Lovecraft" is a different spin on Lovecraft. What if Lovecraft, frankly a huge bigot and racist, had descendants of color and one of them ran a bookshop? What if one of his recurring characters, Randolph Carter, actually existed, and his descendant was a police officer? And they team up in a story? Well, that's this book. Daniel Carter is a detective who has lived through the trauma of his partner killing himself in front of him after they rescue a kid from a serial killer. His last words referring to "the twist". Carter resigns from the police and becomes a private detective. Shortly thereafter, he inherits a bookstore from a person he never knew in Providence, Rhode Island. When he goes down there, he meets Mina Lovecraft, an African American woman who runs the bookstore for her uncle, who disappeared months ago and has been heard from since. Around the same time, Carter is hired on a case that leads to some very strange murders committed by a rogue mathematician. Could all these things be related? Yes. So this is a very strange book. It's relatively short, but there's a lot here to chew on. Howard knows his Lovecraft. This book is full of nuggets and easter eggs for Lovecraftian enthusiasts. I was encouraged to look up some elements of the story, and it gets deep into the Mythos. I think he captured the aspect of Lovecraft in that you feel like you have no idea about what's going on and you probably won't find out. He also touches on the visceral horror that is integral to Lovecraft. In some ways, he develops some aspects of the Mythos better. His characters are more fleshed out and are used as more than devices to spread the feeling of fear and fatalism about an indifferent universe. He picks up some concepts and themes from some of Lovecraft's stories and creates a new story out of them set in the 21st Century. But my favorite part is how Howard subversively dissects Lovecraft's bigotry and racism. Mina is a descendant would have done Lovecraft proud if he could get past his white supremacy and racism. She's thoughtful, intelligent, emotionally stable, well-read, and loyal and very strong. She had a matter-of-fact approach to weirdness, which is enviable, considering some of the events that happen in this family. She seems to be the antidote to Lovecraft's claustrophobic fear of the Other and conviction that some people are just genetically inferior. Daniel Carter is a good co-lead. He's a decent guy. As a cop, he tends to be a skeptic about things, but in the face of weirdness, he doesn't shut down, he follows the lead. I like that he had to confront his own hidden prejudices and comes out a better man after he did so. He does feel at times the helplessness in the face of events beyond their comprehension that is emblematic of Lovecraft's protagonists, but doesn't give into and doesn't allow it to break his mind. There's a developing connection between Carter and Lovecraft, but it's nascent. They become friends, and its likely what they go through will only strengthen that bond. It is possible that things may become romantic over time. But more importantly, they know that they have each others' backs. Of course, there had to be some weird people, because it's Lovecraft. The rogue mathematician, the Waites, femme fatales who are simultaneously sexy but also deeply wrong, and their brain dead spouses, the mysterious lawyer who informs Carter of the bequest. Enough to make any reader feel uneasy about everything. So why the <b>3.5/5.0 star </b>rating? The main feeling I came out of this was "What did I just read?" It feels short to me. It was a book that kept my interest, and I liked the main characters, but I also felt like there was a lot that I didn't get or understand when it ended. There are some gruesome elements to this story and subject matter that made me uncomfortable. This one is not for young readers. Frankly, I was a bit disturbed by some imagery. The rogue mathematician who discovers a way to manipulate reality is a profoundly damaged individual lacking in morals. His acts are unconscionable and bizarrely cruel. To him, murder is manipulating the odds. It's always hard to read about people like this for me. Readers who like having the questions will enjoy this book. I think I would have preferred a longer book that delved a little deeper into those unanswered questions. This is going to be a series, so maybe things will be more fleshed out in later books. I like the main characters and the concept, so I'll keep reading.

Dark Mirror

In a Glass Darkly - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

This was the Goodreads Classic Horror Lovers Tales to Chill Your Blood group read in October 2017. I listened to it on Kindle. This volume contains five stories: "Green Tea" "The Familiar" "Mr. Justice Harbottle" "The Room in the Dragon Volant" "Carmilla" I will go through and discuss each story separately.

 

"Green Tea"--I have read this story before. It's interesting, although the way it's written is a bit on the dry side. It's told with detachment, which I suppose makes sense as it's told through letters written by Dr. Martin Hesselius, a paranormal investigator. The interesting component was the concept of green tea as a substance that can cause a person's third eye to open and to allow them to see into the spirit world. The unfortunate clergyman who is the focus of the story is able to see a monkey that continues to haunt him until it drives him crazy. It could have been more suspenseful, honestly. 3 stars "The Familiar"--A psychological horror story about a man who is being haunted by a figure from his past as a sea captain. Another use of the trope of a person being driven mad by his perception of something no one else can see. I was not particularly impressed by this story. 2.5 stars "Mr. Justice Harbottle"--a story about a judge who is haunted by the spirits of those he wrongly condemned to death. Nice build of suspense. I think the writing is much better in this story than "Green Tea" and "The Familiar". Ironically, I read the original version of this story, "An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street" (1853) out of another ghost story volume I was reading in October. I like that it deals with the concept of spiritual consequences for the wrong that one does, even when the person seems to be powerful in this life. The judge was not just a corrupt official, but he was also a degenerate who treated those around him poorly. 4 stars "The Room in the Dragon Volant"--This is more of a suspense story. It reminds me of something Robert Louis Stevenson might have wrote. It's one of the longer stories in the volume, with some involved storytelling. It's not a ghost or horror story, although there initially appears to be supernatural elements. Lots of nice twists in the story that did impress me. 4 stars "Carmilla"--Another reread for me. A very famous novella about a female vampire with some very obvious homoerotic overtones. Carmilla chooses exclusively female victims and uses her allure to develop their attraction to her. Carmilla is a create of simultaneous seductiveness and repulsion to her newest victim, Laura. Readers can plot this story out and see over time that there is something very wrong about Carmilla. The story builds to an exciting climax as Laura's father and other concerned parties work to deal with the evil vampire. This is old school vampire horror. Carmilla is the bad guy. Readers who enjoy the romantic angle cannot escape the fact that Carmilla is a sexual predator who is endangering the life of Laura. This was written during the Victorian age, in which sexual values were highly pruritanical, so it couldn't have been written any other way without national outrage. However, it was a night springboard for plenty of later vampire stories that focused more of the erotic aspects and less on the evil monster component. First time I read this, I found the flowery descriptions tedious. I enjoyed this a lot more this time around, maybe because I listened to the narration. 4 stars. Overall, I would give this 3.5 stars, which is an average of my individual ratings. Le Fanu is a good writer, but his style isn't my personal favorite. He's not the most active writer and I don't find his writing particularly scary (other than a couple of moments in Carmilla). However, he has some interesting ideas and concepts and his storytelling has been influential to the genre of classic horror.

Monsters Among Us

The Last Wish : Introducing the Witcher - Andrzej Sapkowski, Danusia Stok

"The Last Wish" is a collection of stories about Geralt Rivia, the Witcher, whose occupation is to deal with monsters. This is a frame story in which other stories are the memories that the protagonist recalls as he recovers from a nearly fatal wound.

Readers who enjoy dark fantasy, fables, and fairy tales will love this book. The author retells some well-known fairy tales with ingeunity, such as "Beauty and the Beast" , "Sleeping Beauty," "Rapunzel", and "Snow White", and he also offers unique twists on ancient Eastern European legends such as the strigoi and rusalka, jinn, and even the Fair Folk, Fae or Elves. Some stories are pretty scary, and some are fairly humorous. Some have a little of both. All are written with loving care, with emotional depth, and plenty of action scenes.

Let Me Tell You a Scary Story

Victorian Frightenings: Volume 1 (Horror Anthology Volume 1) - E.F. Benson, Edith Wharton, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Perceval Landon, William Mudford, Auguste de Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Bram Stoker

I wish I had taken notes when I read this, but I didn't have the time. I found this enjoyable. There's a little bit of everything. There are some widely recognized classics in the horror genre here: "The Judge's House by Bram Stoker, "The Upper Berth" by F. Marion Crawford. Also stories by famous authors that might be lesser known, such as "The Lady Maid's Bell" by Edith Wharton, "Madam Crowl's Ghost" by JS Le Fanu. I didn't love all the stories, but generally they were all good quality. The best story is probably the first ones: "Thurnley Abbey", a ghost story with a hefty dose of psychological horror, and I admit it did make me giggle. It deals with how a skeptic deals with facing something beyond his perception.. Also, "The Room in the Tower" by EF Benson, about a man haunted by a horrible woman in a portrait. This was very creepy! The last two stories, "The Torture of Hope" by Villiers d I'Isle-Adam and "The Iron Shroud" by William Mudford are more like contes cruel. The former about a man who is imprisoned and allowed to believe he has escaped, only to find it was just a cruel way to torment him by his captors. The latter, about a man who is forced to face his own execution in his prison cell. It ends abruptly and makes the reader feel acutely uncomfortable. I don't like the way "The Judge's House" ends, but it's definitely a very effective ghost story with some real understanding of supernatural evil in that a horrible person's essence retains the malevolence it had in life. I listened to this on Kindle and that was a very fun way to experience these stories. It's well deserving of a four star rating.

Counting the Cost

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Three Vol. 2 - Brian Buccellato, Bruno Redondo, Mike S. Miller

I felt like this was very short but eventful. Superman is no longer neutralized, and he's madder than ever. Constantine is up to his scheming at maximum levels. I liked that this one had lots of magic in it. Injustice messes with my head, because Superman is a terrible and formidable villain. Wonder Woman as well. Ugh, her crush on Superman has made her into a terrible dupe. I am and always will be Team Batman, just saying. The body count is always high in this series, and I hate that people fall in with an authoritarian because he know how to manipulate fear (sounds familiar with the current situation in the US right now). I will finish this because I want to know how this ends. But I will be holding my breath and gritting my teeth the whole time.

The Truth Comes Out

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) - Liam Sharpe, Greg Rucka

This was a very good rebirth/reboot of Wonder Woman. It introduces a character who I would consider Wonder Woman's arch-nemesis, although their relationship is very complicated, Cheetah aka Barbara Minerva. Also, Steve Trevor plays a big role. I loved the artwork. While nice, the cover art doesn't live up to the wonderful illustration inside the book. Greg Rucka is an excellent writer, and his skills are beautifully displayed in this volume. His understanding of what makes the characters tick is evident. He gets Diana, Steve and Barbara. He also examines our society in which the lives of girls and women are disregarded as not valuable, especially if they don't serve some usefulness. Barbara's character arc shows the damage that a misogynistic culture can do to a person. I also liked how this volume delves into the Greek mythology aspects of Diana's heritage. Her father is not who she thought he was. She also realizes that the Amazons have kept secrets from her. This leads to her sense of disillusionment. Also this book explores Diana's relationship with Steve. Although I not-so-secretly ship Diana and Bruce, WonderBat, I like her and Steve together. I think the problem is that Steve is a soldier and is entrenched in the human world, whereas Diana is immortal and pretty much a demigoddess, which puts a time limit on their relationship, and they're still trying to figure all out that out. I'm pretty happy with this first book in the Rebirth series of Diana. This is the best Wonder Woman comic I've read so far. Looking forward to reading more.

Kill or Be Killed

New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything - Tim Seeley, Juan Ferreyra

This was a pretty good conclusion to this run of Suicide Squad. It's very frenetic and wild. It's hard to keep up with what's going on. Waller fans will like this volume because she gets to show how badass she is in the field. I wish I remembered more, since it's been forever since I read this. If you want to read modern Suicide Squad, then this is pretty decent, but I preferred the previous series.

Edited since this morning: I remember this. It involves a cult of death, and that was a pretty cool idea. Lots of crazy types stuck in a castle, trying to kill each other. Now that I think about it, this is my favorite in this run.

Pro tip: Don't wait three months to write a book review.

Overall rating: 4.25/5.0 stars.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

This is by far the darkest Justice League book I've read at this point. Darkseid is bad enough, but if he had offspring with a disgraced Amazon, you can imagine how bad that would turn out. Everyone of the JL has serious issues, and there are some fatalities. So much happens, and it's been a while since I read this, so I'm going by my memory. It was very good, lots of action, very dark as I said earlier. I really like how the Crime Syndicate from Earth One shows up. They are so deliciously twisted.

I think Geoff Johns is a good writer. He draws you into the story and his writing melds well with the art. Sometimes I get lost trying to interpret what the panels are doing in some books. I didn't feel that way with this one, even with all the drama that's going on.

A lot of big surprises in this one, and some really great cameos. Unlikely heroes show up, and the big dependable heroes seem humbled in this. I would recommend it, despite the fact that it's very chaotic in some ways.

Diana of Themyscira, Earth One

Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1 - Grant Morrison, Yanick Paquette

This was kind of weird. It was a skewed version of the Wonder Woman origin story, but instead of their patron goddess being Hera, it's Aphrodite. You can imagine how that could change a few things. It has a lot more overt sapphic tones than I've seen with Wonder Woman (but hardly surprising or shocking). I mean its a Utopian all female society, so why wouldn't the women pair up together as partners and lovers? I was fine with that. I think some of their rituals were on the verge of kinky if I'm honest. I've always been leery of sex and violence together thought.

I did like that Steve Trevor was black in this version. The relationship that Diana has with him is undefined. Since Wonder Woman has a lover already, I wasn't sure that there were any romantic undertones in her relationship with Trevor as it was written.

When Diana comes to the world of men, she is portrayed as very dominant with an edge of cruelty. I didn't love that about her characterization. I don't see Diana as being that kind of person.

The storyline where she encounters the sorority girls on a wild spring break trip and bonds with a particular girl was a bit odd. I know it was a way to group Diana and teach her the ways of the modern world. I didn't much care for it.

Honestly, I was glad this is Earth One. While I didn't mind the aspect of Diana being queer, and I liked that Steve was black, I didn't care for other aspects of the storyline. It wasn't terrible, so I would still give this three stars.

Dangerous Beauty

Samurai Game - Christine Feehan

3rd Reread Completed in October 2017.:

I think that Azami is one of Feehan's more complex GhostWalker heroines. She is definitely the most tortured. Like physically and emotionally. Whitney used her for experiments and operated on her repeatedly and then literally threw her away. She rose like a phoenix from the ashes, which is why her tattoo is so appropriate. I love how badass she is. Not only badass, but also very calm and soothing and has a sense of peace that took many years of discipline to cultivate. I think she's perfect for Sam.

Sam is such a sweetie. I love him. He's definitely lethal and capable of kicking butt big time, but he's also like a big cuddly teddy bear. He's so loyal. I was so glad to see he got a good heroine.

I loved how Sam and Azami connected deeply, and one couldn't even say it was because Whitney paired them. They share a history of having grown up in trouble surroundings and being adopted, and a craving for a real sense of family and home. It makes me so happy that they are together.

I like how much of the action in this book is Azami on her mission to cut off Whitney's espionage supply pipeline. She is ruthless about taking out her enemies, but I'm not mad at her.

One thing that bothered me this time as much as the last, Feehan barely mentions that Sam is African American. I would have liked more references to his skin color just as it was important to get a clear image of him in my head. I made up my own image. However, someone who picked up this book first probably wouldn't even know Sam was black.

As always, I love seeing Team One work together and joke around. I like how Feehan takes the time to introduce some characters she hadn't featured before, like Jonas and Kyle. I liked how much Ryland, Gator, Tucker, Nico, and Ian were in this, not to mention the ladies such as Saber, Lily, and Flame.

I never get enough of these book. This completes the reread of the books I have already read at least twice. Now I'm moving onto Viper Game, for my first reread.

Cold as Ice

The Hunter - Kerrigan Byrne

I hate that I am so late writing this review. It's in no way a reflection on this book, because I loved it. Christopher Argent is the real deal. He is in every way a lethal assassin. Yes he really does almost kill Millie. But he can't do it. Something about her, he just can't. They form a bond that is terribly inconvenient to Christopher, he's a damaged soul who has vowed not to love anyone or anything since he lost his mother in such a horrible way. He is rich beyond calculation, has a fearsome reputation, is at the top of his game as an assassin, but inside he's a prisoner. He is truly a tortured hero in every way. I love tortured heroes. I love dangerous heroes. I love assassins. And he's a redhead. Bingo! It's Christmas.

Millie is a great heroine. She's strong and intelligent and loving and determined. She's able to work past her fears or rejection and rightfully fear of being with a cold, ruthless man like Christopher, to try to reach his heart. He's the man for her and she knows it very quickly. The question is how to conquer his arctic heart and soul.

Kerrigan Byrne knows how to write a spicy romance that will burn the pages up. She doesn't disappoint in this book. However, because Christopher is so damaged, it takes a while for them to get intimate and even longer before it's truly satisfying. I liked how she shows the ice melting around his heart, and how it's a painful process, much like when one has frostbite and hypothermia and must be warmed slowly. Millie is so good about giving Christopher space, but not giving up on him. She also has some wounds of the soul, but in contrast, she has gotten healing for her wounds. And she has her adorable son who anchors her and gives her a reason for being.

The action is very good and the villains are very evil. There are some quite violent moments. Nothing gory, but it's done in a way that cements the authenticity of the dangerous world that Argent lives in, and the seriousness of the thread that Millie is facing. I loved seeing Farah and Dorian from The Highwayman, and we get to meet the heroine for the next book The Highlander. I confess I read that one first, so I'm excited to look back and see where Mena came from. Her story is very sad. I'm glad she gets her happy ending in the next book.

If you're a historical romance fan and you're not reading this series, you need to rectify that immediately. This is a great series. I've loved every book I've read. Dangerous heroes and strong, intelligence, loving heroines in an authentic historical setting with plenty of action and intrigue. Oh and some hot loving. What more can you ask for?