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Book Review | Trusted Bond by Mary Calmes

Jin Rayne is having trouble adjusting to the new life he’s supposed to love. Instead of adapting to being the mate of tribe leader Logan Church, Jin can’t get past the fact that his lover was straight before they met. He’s discovered the joy in belonging to Logan but fears his new life could disappear at a moment’s notice, despite Logan’s insistence that they are forever, end of story.

Jin wants to trust Logan, but that desire will be put to the test both by a rival tribe leader and by a startling revelation about Jin’s existence. At stake is Jin’s life and his place in the tribe. If he’s going to survive to see Logan again, he’ll have to release his fear and freely accept the bond, for only then can he truly trust.

This book made me smile and I’m really glad that I gave it a chance after the fiasco that was the audio book version of Change of Heart (book one of the series).  You can read my review of Change of Heart HERE.

One of my favorite things about Trusted Bond is the politics of the panther shifter society and how the shapeshifters deal with those who break the law.  The world is well thought out and Mary Calmes has done a wonderful job of filling that world with characters that you want to know more of and a story that I literally could not put down!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m glad I gave this book a chance.  It was both entertaining and enjoyable to read more about Jin and Logan’s relationship and to watch as Jin finally, FINALLY, figured out that he’s it for Logan and that’s that.  Although some of the situations that Jin finds himself dealing with seemed a tad unbelievable, I can see how they were used in the grand scheme of things to get Jin where he needed to be.  Let’s be honest, it’s fiction and sometimes fiction is unbelievable.

It was great to see Jin’s growth as a person in this book!  He really comes into his own and absolutely does not stand for anyone trying to hurt his mate or his family, protecting them at any cost.

If I had one complaint, it would be the excessive use of titles, terms, and places that are used throughout the story.  It can be hard to follow at times, but there is a glossary right in the front of the book and as I really am beginning to enjoy this series it wasn’t too much of a hardship for me to check on a word/title when I wasn’t sure what it meant.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read… I read it in less than a day, after all.

Series: Change of Heart series, book 2
Format: eBook
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Source: Tennessee READS
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Book Review | Buzz by E. Davies

I was suggested The Riley Brothers series by E. Davies by someone who knows I’m a sucker for hockey stories. Surprisingly, the entire 40-hour series was on sale on Audible for just 1 credit! It sounded like a steal and the series had some good reviews, so I went ahead and spent the credit.

Kind of wish I hadn’t.

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with the story or even the narration of it… it just didn’t work for me.

Up and coming hockey player, Cam Riley (one of the brothers), has to give up his dream of joining the big leagues when a medical condition causes him to pass out whenever his heart rate is too high for extended periods of time. He heads home where he meets art director, Noah Clark, and sparks fly.

Even as their relationship grows, Cam chooses not to tell Noah the entire truth about his condition and that he’d been a professional hockey player. But his condition doesn’t let him keep those secrets for long and the truth comes out.

There isn’t much conflict between the two, even with all of the lying, and they resolve things easily. Cam gets his surgery, recovers, and they live happily-ever-after.

Oh, and Noah’s uncle is a beekeeper. Cam ends up working for him, which is where the title Buzz comes from… I thought that was cute.

Like I said earlier, it’s not a bad story, just not for me.

Series: The Riley Brothers, book 1
Format: Audible audio book
Publisher: Audible
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Book Review | Altered Heart by Kate Steele

Altered Heart by Kate Steele was the first book I read for my O.W.L.’s back in April and it was a good one to kick off the book challenge with.

Mick Matranga is basically a supernatural enforcer who hunts down bad guys and gives them their due, whether it be jail time or death. It’s his job and he likes it.

But when the victim of his latest case, one Rio Hardin, turns out to be his mate, Mick isn’t sure what to do.

Widowed for four years after being happily married to the woman of his dreams, Mick doesn’t need the hassle of falling in love and then losing another person he cares about. He chooses to keep Rio at a distance, even while the human-turned-werewolf comes closer and closer to his first shift.

Rio hates that he’s been turned and is terrified of his first real shift. After the psycho-alpha who bit him forced him from shifting into his wolf during his first full moon, all he can think of is the absolute pain he experienced. When Mick tells him that sex can help distract a were from the pain of the shift, he begins to have hope that things won’t be so bad with Mick around.

But Mick is too bull-headed to accept what Rio wants and ends up torturing the both of them when he refuses to open up and accept Rio as his mate.

My favorite thing about Altered Heart was how believable Rio and Mick were as characters. Their decisions made sense; from Rio’s running away from home to Mick’s refusal to start anything serious with Rio, there is a reason for every choice they make. (even if they are stupid decisions, lol)

Altered Heart is a solid 3/5 stars for me. The writing and world building is solid, but it didn’t blow me out of the water. It was good enough that I think I’ll read the sequel Amended Soul if I can get my hands on it.

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Loose ID
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Two Book Tuesday

Still dealing with the Covid-19 craziness. Even though I’m blessed to be allowed to continue working during this time, I can feel mental exhaustion creeping in. So, I’ve been diving into various fictional worlds as a means of escape… it’s also a free vacation, in it’s own way.

The Elven King’s Blade is actually a web-based serial title, written by X. Aratare (or RaytheReign).

Ciaran has been fighting an unknown wasting disease his entire life, a disease which took the life of his mother, and has resigned himself to an early death. He decides to travel to a family-owned cabin with his pet fox, Twig, who adopted him when he was a young boy and has never left his side.

What he finds in the small, country town is proof that he didn’t hallucinate the black riders he and his mother fought and that there is more to the world than he ever imagined. After saving Elven King Aethaden’s life and discovering what he really is, Ciaran decides to follow his destiny and go to the elven realm to fight the ‘forces of evil’ there.

If you’re at all interested in web-serials, then I would suggest checking this title out.

This book was suggested to me by a co-worker at the library. She is very well-read and had only just started reading Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo.

I am familiar with Bardugo’s young adult works, but hadn’t heard about this venture into adult fiction.

As an urban fantasy title, I am expecting it to be darker than my usual fare, but am excited to hop into the world she’s created. 🙂

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Two Book Tuesday

This month’s post is pretty much themed around the O.W.L.’s Magical Readathon I’m participating in during the month of April. I’ve been enjoying going back to books and series’ that I remember liking in the past, as well as venturing way outside of my comfort genres and reading things like straight up romance *gasp*!

Okay, confession time… I haven’t had the chance to really get into this book. Shame on me, but I spent most of my free time sewing up a face mask to wear out-and-about.

Altered Heart follows Mick Matranga as he works to rid his city of the lowest scum out there. Along the way, he discovers his mate, one Rio Hardin, a human-turned-werewolf about the experience his first shift.

I’m pretty sure this is my first time reading Kate Steele, so here’s hoping it’s a good first introduction, lol.

By the title alone, The Perfect Wife by Gina Fields doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but it comes highly suggested by my mother and she has great taste in books, so we shall see.

My mom says that it’s just a “really great story without a lot of extra stuff to clog up the plot” and “one the nicest romances I have ever read”.

I’m looking forward to reading this, even though it’s kind of short, lol.

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Book Review | Tron by Brian Daley

Computer programmer Kevin Flynn is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer, where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out. During his adventure he meets Tron, a rebel program fighting the tyrannical Master Control Program.

At first it was just an interesting read and I felt like I was getting a little bit more of the world, but it was still just another movie novelization.

The writing style felt really weird and clunky, mainly because of it’s age (the book was written a couple of years before I was born), and that probably didn’t help matters much.  The flow of words felt outdated and strange to me, but I continued to read because I’m a huge TRON fan.

I’m actually really glad that I kept going, because even though I felt like I had gone back in time writing wise, the story gets REALLY good.  Right around the time that Tron meets up with Yori, the story picks up pace and doesn’t slow down until the very last sentence.

I enjoyed the extra details about Tron’s fights with the Memory Guard on the solar sailor and the way the author described Flynn saving Yori’s life on Sark’s Carrier had me both worried and relieved that Yori would be alright and wondering why Flynn couldn’t have figured his powers out in time to save RAM (I love RAM) *cries*

So, in conclusion:  At times, I felt like I’d traveled back in time and was reading something from the dark ages, BUT, even having to deal with an outdated style of writing, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book.  It gives the reader a sneak peak into everything we all know was going on in the background, but that they just couldn’t fit into the movie.

Audience: I think that fans of science fiction might also enjoy this book, but it’s a definite must-read if you are a fan of either of the Tron movies.

Format: Paperback
Publisher: Del Rey
Source: Library ILL
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Book Review | Change of Heart by Mary Calmes

As a young gay man—and a werepanther—all Jin Rayne yearns for is a normal life. Having fled his past, he wants nothing more than to start over, but Jin’s old life doesn’t want to let him go. When his travels bring him to a new city, he crosses paths with the leader of the local were-tribe.

Logan Church is a shock and an enigma, and Jin fears that Logan is both the mate he fears and the love of his life. Jin doesn’t want to go back to the old ways, and mating would irrevocably tie him to them. But Jin is the mate Logan needs at his side to help him lead his tribe, and he won’t give Jin up so easily. It will take time and trust for Jin to discover the joy in belonging to Logan and how to love without restraint.

Change of Heart by Mary Calmes sounded like a really good book and the print version might live up to my expectations of it…

Sadly, the narration of this story left much to be desired and I nearly didn’t finish the book because of it.  There were many points in the story where I found myself not liking anything about the story only because of the way it was being read to me.

I know of many non-professional narrators who could have read this story and transformed it into a wonderful audio experience, but Sean Crisden just did not deliver that kind of performance.

I’m not sure what effect the narrator was going for in the reading of this story, but it was way of the mark for me.  Jin was at times too whiny and at others too blasé about everything going on around him.  And, while Logan was supposed to be the strong, alpha male of the story, the narration came across as pushy and fake every time Logan was speaking.

I truly believe that if I’d read this in a print format then it would have been an entertaining story worthy of more than the 2/10 I’m giving it… mainly because I wanted it to be good.

Series: Change of Heart Series, book 1
Format: Electronic audio book
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Source: Tennessee READS
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon || Goodreads

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Two Book Tuesday

I’ve been waffling between super busy and insanely apathetic this last month. I’ve struggled with a lack of interest in getting things done and my reading goals suffered because of it… but I managed to re-arrange my living space, make progress on a knitting project, and read just a few things, including a non-fiction title that’s been on my “to read list” since 2012!

I first became interested in Nathaniel Fick’s story by watching HBO’s Generation Kill, a show inspired by the book a journalist, Evan Wright, wrote about his time embedded with Marines during the first phase of the Iraq War.

It says a lot about his character, that the reason Nathaniel Fick joined the Marines was because they didn’t say how great they were, but asked instead if he could be great enough to join them. They challenge applicants to be better than even they think they can be and, if they succeed, they will embody the values held by the Marine Corp and will become “The few, the proud, the Marines.” (no pun intended)

“You need discipline most, when it’s hardest to muster.”
― Nathaniel Fick

I listened to the audio version of this book, which is read by Nathaniel Fick, and while the narration is sometimes bland, the content more than makes up for those few moments. It is particularly enthralling to hear a Marine’s thoughts as he makes the decision to join up, goes through various levels of training, and finally goes to war following the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

While serving, Nathaniel Fick’s core objective was to take care of the men under him. I think we hear more about the abuses of power, than about those individuals who truly care to make a difference in the lives of the people they lead… and that’s terribly sad. It is an honor to lead others, be it on the battlefield or in the office, and those in positions of power should take care to remember that.

“Complex ideas must be made simple,
or they’ll remain ideas and never be put into action.”
― Nathaniel Fick

Having heard his story through his own words, I can only that the world could use more men like Nathaniel Fick.

On a recent trip to Nashville, I was able to get my hands on a copy of The Radium Girls at a used bookstore, yay!

This nonfiction title is about when radium was first discovered and how, as the new thing, we didn’t really understand the side effects it could have. The Radium Girls is about the women who worked in radium-dial factories and the serious effects this dangerous element had on them.

Can’t wait to crack this one open!

Do you enjoy reading biographies? Why or why not?
What about nonfiction in general?
Let me know what your favorite genres are in the comments!

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Two Book Tuesday

It has been notoriously difficult to get my hands on the books I really wanted to read this month. I’ve had a title requested at Barnes & Noble for nearly 4 weeks with no delivery date in sight, hunted down three books at local libraries only to have them checked out mere hours before my arrival, and just had pretty bad luck all around.

Once I finally found a handful of books to read, I sat myself down and started Bob by Wendy Moss.

Honestly, Bob feels like a story I might have read when I was a child. There is a sense of nostalgia and childlike wonder and belief in the imaginary that brought me back to my early years as a reader.

It was such fun remembering along with Livy and discovering where Bob came from.

The second title for Two Book Tuesday is Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat. It has been on my TBR for an absolute age and I’m going to read it, even if it kills me! (spoiler: it probably won’t)

I’ve heard that it’s about a prince who is betrayed by his brother and sent as a slave to serve the prince of another country with whom tensions are high.

It sounded interesting and it’s been suggested to me a number of times, so we’ll see what the verdict is once I get into it.

What do you think of these two books?
Do you think I’ll be captivated by Captive Prince?
Let me know in the comments!