Reading Fanatic Reviews


Grumpy Old Gods Volume 1 by Various Authors

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Grumpy Old Gods, Volume 1*

Funny Tales of the Discarded Gods

Interestingly, I read Volume 2 before I read Volume 1 of this series. But, of course, it doesn’t really matter as this series is collections of humorous and fun short stories about the old gods. It was a delight to read this first one, a collection of 13 stories by different authors. Some were laugh-out-loud funny. Some authors have been very creative in thinking about how the old gods might interact with humans today or otherwise amuse themselves. These stories are all short, so they can be ready easily when you need to, say, wait at the doctor’s office or are on a break at work. If you love classic mythology, you may very well enjoy this sometimes hilarious spin on it.

The Vangel by Tatenda Creed

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The Vangel*

More Supernatural Happenings

I have read the other books in the series, and the author has truly created a gripping supernatural world that is easy to get lost in. I particularly enjoyed the prequel, which sets up the series. This particular book felt a little off in its pacing. It is a long book, so it needs to have a lot going on to keep interest up. For the first part of the book, I felt like not enough action was going on, and much of it seemed repetitive. I didn’t get a sense of the build that I like to see through the first and middle portions in a novel. More twists and turns came later, but it almost felt a little too late. But enough happened near the end that I am curious to see where the story goes from here. The book is written in the first-person present, a point of view that I am not a particular fan of. I think authors believe it to be more intimate than other viewpoints, but I find it distancing. Perhaps I’m just too accustomed to third-person past, but I do find the viewpoint in this book distracting, often pulling me out of the story. If you have enjoyed the other books in this series—and you should definitely read the series in order even though each is complete unto itself as each builds on the previous novel—you will most likely enjoy this installment.

The Other Duet by Jessica Lynch

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The Other Duet*

Excellent, Immersive Fantasy/Supernatural Read

Whenever I choose to review a box set like this one that tells a couple’s complete story over the course of a couple of books, I am never sure how much to give away of the story. I always like to say something, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for you if you choose to read the books. I found this to be a fun and totally immersive romantic fantasy/supernatural read. Now, not everyone might not see it as fun, but what I found to be so was that the author was able to write this book in such a way that it almost felt as if you were inhabiting the body and mind of the heroine as she first went through her normal daily life before she bought the mirror and then when it all went sideways after she fell through the mirror to the Other. We are literally with the heroin step by step as she moves from her ordinary world to this fantastical one, and we see it through her eyes and her thoughts so clearly. Hers is not the only perspective in the book, though. Hunter, the hero, is also a viewpoint character as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the supernatural aspect of it and how the Jersey girl heroine just could not believe that she was Artemis. The author has done an excellent job creating the world of the Other and its supernatural inhabitants. The heroine definitely shakes up that world. I enjoyed watching the evolving relationship between the hero and heroine. I loved that, in this box set, the author gave us a short story about Duds, the heroine’s cat. A thoroughly enjoyable duet.

The Immortality Trials: Skies of Olympus by Eliza Raine

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The Immortality Trials: Skies of Olympus (trials 1-6)*

Twelve Trials to Amuse Bored Gods

What a very fascinating read! I enjoy tales that are spin-offs of Greek or Roman mythology, and this a particularly enjoyable one. The author has set up a good premise that will see this series through twelve novellas: The Greek gods are bored and decide to choose heroes to face twelve trials, and the victor’s team will win immortality. Each of the twelve gods will choose a champion, but only four will be chosen to compete in the trials. One of these is Lyssa, daughter of Hercules, and she very much wants to win against her father, whom she sees as a brute who murdered her mother and brother. She certainly does not want him to be immortal.

I thought the author set the scene very well, showing Lyssa’s life as a smuggler before Athena comes to her ship to choose her as her hero to put forth for the trials. The goddess believes that Lyssa is the only one who could beat Hercules. Lyssa has made quite a life for herself, skirting the edges of the law as a captain of a smuggler ship. The author also did a good job showing how Lyssa is physically strong with her quarter-god ability to feel rage and channel it. She is a strong and believable heroine who is uncomfortable being thrust into the limelight after so many years in the shadows after she chose to flee from her father. The author also wrote good descriptions of the above-Olympus world; I could imagine it quite easily. I look forward to reading more about these trials.

Fate of the Goddess by K. N. Lee

Fate of the Goddess*

Violent Start but Okay Story

I have quite enjoyed some of this author’s books in the past. This one, I had a hard time getting into because it just felt so needlessly violent at the beginning. Once the twins got to the human realm, I found it more accessible. A lot is going on in this story, and it is quite a fascinating world that the author has created here. I was surprised at the number of grammar and consistency issues in this book. It wasn’t just the normal ones with punctuation and grammar, but sometimes the characters were called the wrong names. In at least one place a near word was used instead of the right word, shall instead of shawl to describe a garment. Since I didn’t know the characters’ world, I did find the issues with character names to be confusing. That said, after the initial violence, the story of the young, future ruling gods as they await their time to be a fascinating one.

Two Deals by Nikki Kardnov

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Two Deals*

Unexpected Twists in Paranormal Story

I had read the first book in this series, Three Wishes, and thought the author had done an excellent job creating a complex world of humans and paranormals. The first book looked at the oldest Blackwell djinn brother, and this one looks at the next in line, Poe. I had found Poe to be an interesting character in the first book, so I was interested to read more of his story. The author did not disappoint. Again, she has woven a complicated the tale with familial bonds, demons, kidnapping, and romance with some steam! Poe at first seemed so self-centered, but beneath his “I don’t need anyone” exterior beats the heart of one who truly desires his caeli match, which in this world means essentially his fated life partner who will extend his powers. The chemistry between Poe and Willa sizzles off the page. Another excellent book in this series, and I look forward to Thorin’s story.

The Bird with the Broken Wing by D. L. Richardson

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The Bird with the Broken Wing*

Compelling Story of Life, Death, Second Chances, and Purgatory

A highly unusual story! I read a lot, so it’s rare that I ever think that, and I think that’s the first time I’ve said that in a review. If the author hadn’t have said in the blurb that this takes place mostly in purgatory, I think I would have been as unsure as the human characters about their location. What an intriguing concept, to have purgatory be a rehab/mental hospital! The characters had so much to do before they could move on, and it was a fascinating read as the more significant issues slowly unfolded. The book switches between the viewpoints of the three main characters, and the author has managed to give them each a distinct voice. The author was able to draw me into their stories with the first chapters that show the desperate circumstances the characters were in before they neared death. You could really empathize with both Jet and Ben and what they were going through. The idea of an angel stuck in purgatory added a whole other dimension to the story. A well done and compelling read.

Torn by Ditter Kellen

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Fallen Angel Finds Love and Redemption

What a lovely story! The hero, Exodus–who prefers to be called X–is a fallen angel biding his time on Earth while he awaits judgment because of one rather unfortunate indiscretion. Judgment time is almost upon him when a seemingly fragile young woman literally falls into his arms. X is a decent and compassionate angel (despite his fallen status). I love how X could appear a little bit jaded, but Niki’s demeanor and ways could charm him in a way he never had been in his immortal life. Niki is definitely physically fragile because of her heart condition, but she has a tenacity and strength that is the core of her character. All of this is complicated by Delia, the demon who was at the heart of X’s indiscretion. This book looks at the choices that we make and the repercussions that those choices have. (By the way, the cover seems at odds with the X I came to know and love in the story. That isn’t how I picture him at all, and really, not how he is portrayed.) A beautifully written supernatural love story.

The Janusite Trilogy by Anna Durand

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The Janusite Trilogy*

Supernatural Romance with Classic Fight of Good vs. Evil

If you’re familiar with Anna Durand’s work, you know she writes contemporary and paranormal character-driven sensual romance. This box set is all of her Undercover Elemental trilogy, and she delivers the goods in terms of character, plot, and steam factor. It is a supernatural romance that features the classic fight of good vs. evil as the impetus for the over-arching plot.

Lindsey, the heroine, discovers that while she’s mortal, she is also the Janusite, given some of the abilities of that god. She becomes involved with Nevan, king of the sylphs boyfriend. I love Lindsey, by the way. No matter what the story throws at her, she is strong and resilient. She has a way of looking at things that keeps it all in perspective. She even helps lift Nevan out of brooding, nonhelpful thoughts.

The twists and turns in the stories keep Lindsey guessing as well as the reader. Time shifts. Pasts are forgotten… or come back to haunt the characters. The author does an excellent job of showing us these wildly dramatic shifts through Lindsey’s eyes. We can sense her frustration, fears, and sadness and appreciate her doggedness to get through it all. The author has a natural writing style that pulls you right in, even though the books are about such fantastic events. She makes them feel like they could actually happen and do happen to the characters.

If you enjoy paranormal/supernatural romance with a high steaminess factor, this trilogy may be right up your alley.

Aldo by Betty Jean Craig

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Terrorism and Genetic Research

This book has so much going on! It is steeped in academia and germ-line genetic research. The author herself is a longtime professor at a university, so her insights into academic life ring true. At its core, this story is about who controls scientific research and to what end. It’s told in a very different way. It starts off as if it is a letter from the professor protagonist to her teenage son, but we actually see many perspectives, including the interactions of the Night Watch Facebook group that wants to make all genetic research, like the protagonist is working on, go away. There is plenty of suspense to keep the pages turning, and there is a hint of romance for those who like that in a thriller. The author seemed to have a good grasp of the science involved in this story. The characters aren’t super complex, but I find that acceptable in a thriller. I did find the switching back and forth between the Facebook posts and communications of the Night Watch and the narrative parts to be a little jarring, but the book was compelling enough that I wanted to see what happened next. If you enjoy thrillers that are strongly based in science (and especially genetics), you may very well enjoy this intriguing tale.



The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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