Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

White Hot: A Hidden Legacy Novel by Ilona Andrews

Title:White Hot (Hidden Legacy #2)
Author:Ilona Andrews
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:May 30, 2017
Publisher's DescriptionThe Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she's used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family's detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor "Mad" Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice…
My rating:****.5

Book cover of White Hot by Ilona AndrewsI enjoyed reading Burn for Me when it was released in 2014, so I was very excited to see that the next two books in the series were going to be published in short succession in 2017. I’ve read way too many books in the interim, so I knew that I was going to have to reread the first book in order to prepare for White Hot. I’m so glad that I did. First, I got to enjoy the world building all over again. The setting of this series is top-notch! Next, I was reminded of how intense these books are. While they can be read in a single sitting, especially if you are as obsessive as I am about good books, they are not at all light books. Although there is a fair amount of humor, as with most of Ilona Andrews’ books, there’s some seriously dark shit in these novels, is what I’m saying. Reading the first and second books in this series back to back allowed me to see the characters grow and evolve from where they were at the beginning of the first novel. I loved the authors’* attention to detail; seemingly minor statements turned out to mean a great deal. As a person who loves words and communication, I appreciate it when everything that is said has meaning.

Nevada has progressed so much over the course of these two books, and I felt like a proud mama, watching her navigate through situations that very few people expected her to survive, let alone succeed in. Likewise, I’ve enjoyed watching Rogan open up about his experiences and attempt to rejoin a world that he had mostly left behind. The Baylor family is remarkable, and learning more about them has felt like a treat.

If you haven’t read the first book in this series, why not??? You definitely can’t read the second without the table-setting that was done in the first, but also, Burn for Me is just a really good book. If you’re the type of person who hates to read incomplete series, start reading the first two books in mid-July, so that you’ll be all caught up by July 25, when Wildfire, the final book in the series, is released. I hope to review that one as well, but I’m already pretty positive that I’m going to love it.

This book was provided to me through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

* – Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym of a husband and wife team, so I’m not misusing the apostrophe here, promise!

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Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Title:Full Measures
Author:Rebecca Yarros
PublisherEntangled Publishing
Publication Date:February 10, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThree knocks can change everything…

"She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead."

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare.
My rating:****


Xe Sands did a great job of narrating this BS, but I still feel gross for having listened to it.

I didn’t listen to this book until months after I’d purchased it, so I no longer remember why I got it. I can’t say what, exactly, made Hunting Julian seem like something that I’d enjoy reading. The blurb makes the events that take place sound very different from the way they actually unfold. The fact that should have been repeated several times throughout is that Asia is not a willing visitor to Julian’s planet. She doesn’t accidentally stumble onto another world. Julian forces orgasmic pleasure on her and then brings the unconscious Asia to his home dimension. Oh, okay then.

Asia gets to Beneath, the imaginative name of Julian’s dimension, and suffers just about every possible misfortune at the hands of the awful people on Julian’s supposedly great society. Julian takes pride in saying that he never lies to her, but he withholds information and generally takes advantage of her complete ignorance of his planet.

Asia is Julian’s kindra, some sort of mystical soulmate who, when joined with Julian, has an ability to generate a huge amount of the energy that the people of Julian’s world need to survive. This isn’t bad. What sucks is that Asia is mistreated by just about everybody she encounters on the world that she never chose to go to. Julian and her own sister call her selfish for not immediately giving up everything she has ever known or wanted in order to nourish the people of the dimension TO WHICH SHE WAS KIDNAPPED. What the everloving hell is wrong with these people

Why do so many of the characters, including Asia, buy into the idea that she’s selfish for not immediately falling into line with what her kidnapper, his people, and her kool-aid drinking sister want from her? There are suffering people everywhere, but if somebody kidnapped me and used this as an excuse, I’d still be pretty pissed off about the whole thing.

On this dimension, women who commit crimes are punished by being imprisoned and possibly raped (there will definitely be sex, it’s just up to her and the man who buys her to determine what type of relationship they’ll have) by a man who has bought the right to do so for a period of five years. It’s okay, though, because this world has suffered plagues and the population is dangerously low (still not low enough for me). The rapist/sugar daddy/gross dude’s turn is over if they have a kid. Which, of course, the dirty prisoner mom won’t be able to see or interact with. Also, there’s a stigma against being the child of one of these female prisoners. But hey, if she doesn’t get pregnant during a particular five year period, some other lucky a-hole gets to pony up some dough and repeat the process all over again. By the way, on this dimension crimes that merit this punishment include self-defense and mental illness, yet the sentient beings there continually talk smack about Earth. Pot, meet intergalactic kettle.

No big deal, but Julian doesn’t even offer Asia a real apology until 75% of the way into the book. By real, I mean that that is the first time he apologizes for bringing her Beneath and doesn’t immediately offer an excuse. But psych, he only does this because she hurt his feelings. HIS FEELINGS. The kidnapped woman hurt her kidnapper’s feelings and everybody gets judgy about it. So if some dude kidnaps me for the good of his people, tells me that we’re fated to have some great romance, and I don’t immediately fall into line, I’m a selfish person? Thanks for clearing that up, Ms. Frank. Thoughtfully, the author somehow manages to contradict everything that happens at the beginning of the book and makes the kidnapping Asia’s fault? If only the determined woman hadn’t tried to find out what happened to her missing sister! It’s all her fault for tracking down the last person to have been with Kenya! Oh my god I can’t even

Sorry guys, I wish I could tell you exactly what I hated about the end of this book, but I couldn’t listen to anymore of this crap. I just had to stop. I called Audible and got my credit back. I’m still in too fragile of a mental state to choose another book right now. Although it scarcely feels possible, I might somehow find something that I’d enjoy less than this.

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Secret Sister by Emelle Gamble

Title:Secret Sister
Author:Emelle Gamble
PublisherSoulMate Publishing
Publication Date:July 2013
Publisher's Description"If you're looking for a typical women's fiction/romance, don't look here... this story has a twist of the paranormal that will have you willingly stretching your belief in order to enjoy the plot. Emelle Gamble has created a story that will tear your heart out." LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS, AUGUST, 2013

What if everything about you changed in an instant...
Nick & Cathy and Roxanne. Two best friends. One husband. An extraordinary twist of fate.

How much do you really know about your husband? Your best friend? Yourself? Cathy Chance knows she loves her husband, Nick, with the same passion she had when she married him seven years ago, and he adores her. She also knows that she and her best friend, Roxanne, are closer than most sisters. But on a sunny summer day, these three are hurled into an astounding new reality which forces each to reconsider everything they thought was true about themselves, and one another.
My rating:***.5


Secret Sister is an enjoyable novel about a woman who is killed in an automobile accident, then wakes in the hospital in the body of her friend, who’d been driving the car. Although she initially has no memory of who she was before the accident, she knows that she’s different than all of her visitors expect her to be. She also knows that she’s grieving for someone, despite the fact that she can’t remember anybody. When the accident survivor, who everybody addresses as Roxie, realizes that she’s actually Cathy, she has to figure out how to get her old life back. How does she convince her husband who she is? How does she deal with Roxie’s life?

I liked Cathy. She’s smart and has good instincts, although she doesn’t know that she can trust them until she’s made a few missteps. She doggedly pursues the truth, even when she’s not sure what she’ll learn. Roxie, from the little of her that we see and from what we learn after the accident, is a lost soul who clings to Cathy, even while resenting her doting husband. Nick is a bit of a dark horse; one can’t say for certain where his head is at any given time. I’d give more than a penny to know his thoughts at the end of the book.

The rest of the characters were more hit or miss for me; although I remembered enough about them to spot the red herring (there are some mysteries surrounding both Nick and Cathy’s marriage and also the last year of Roxie’s romantic life), the people in Cathy and Roxie’s school orbit don’t make much of an impact on the story. The secondary characterizations seemed a bit spotty to me; Michael and Zoe were more stereotypical and less interesting than they ought to have been, considering their roles in Roxie and Cathy’s lives. Bradley’s main purpose seemed to be to reveal facts or spout dialogue that the author couldn’t figure out how to introduce in any other way; he’s a bright spot in his scenes, but he functions more like a plot device than a character. Roxie’s mother is great; it seems that every scene she’s in has a much greater emotional impact than the scenes of any other tertiary character.

The ending of this book is interesting and I appreciate that Ms. Gamble felt comfortable with having at least one of her characters living in uncertainty.

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Broken Blade by J.C. Daniels

Title:Broken Blade
Author:J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker
PublisherShiloh Walker, Inc
Publication Date:January 2014
Publisher's DescriptionKit Colbana: assassin, thief, investigator extraordinaire. Now broken. She always expected her past to catch up with her but never like this. Haunted by nightmares and stripped of her identity, she’s retreated to Wolf Haven, the no-man’s land where she found refuge years before. But while she might want to hide away from the rest of the world, the rest of the world isn’t taking the hint.
Dragged kicking and screaming back into life, Kit is thrust head-first into an investigation surrounding the theft of an ancient that she wants nothing to do with. Her instincts tell her it’s a bad idea to just leave the relic lying about, but finding it might be just as bad.

Forced to face her nightmares, she uncovers hidden strength and comes face to face with one of the world’s original monsters.

If she survives the job, she won’t be the same...and neither will those closest to her.
My rating:****.5


A worthy successor to Night Blade, which is one of the best UF books that I’ve read in ages. I thought that this book came out on Tuesday, so I was pretty freaking excited to see it appear on my Kindle on Monday morning. Yay for not being able to keep my days straight! I’m glad to be able to say that this book far exceeded my expectations! While I knew that it would be good, I’m really impressed by how Ms. Daniels managed to advance Kit’s story in logical, though often unexpected, ways while setting up events that are still to come.

First of all: Kit is my freaking hero. She thinks of herself as barely being able to put one foot in front of the other, yet she is so, so capable; the fact that she doesn’t see this and doesn’t believe it when people tell her is heart-wrenching. Some characters in this book are obviously more welcome than others, but they all return and behave exactly as they ought to. Justin – still with the dreads but otherwise terrific; Sam – just as evil as ever; Damon – awesome and swoon-worthy even while navigating through a (largely deserved, sorry, but really) mountain of guilt; Doyle – still my bestest bestie ever, and even more so after this book.

I turned off the book progress info on Broken Blade, because I wanted to enjoy it without constantly trying to figure out whether I thought that the book was 70% of the way wrapped up at 70% in. Also, I just didn’t want to see the end coming. J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker is a freaking tactical genius; I bet her book outlines resemble the whiteboards o’crazy made popular by Carrie from Homeland (I am left-handed, and this is a compliment). I don’t believe that there are throwaway words or scenes in any of these books, but I love how seemingly small details from the first two books turn out to be absolutely pivotal in this one. And not in “a wizard did it” kind of way. I’m really excited for the fourth book, but I feel that Broken Blade ended in such a way that I’m excited, not distraught and anxious, to read the next installment in the Colbana Files.

Right now I’m still squeeing to myself over specific scenes and sentences. This series reminds me of my three favorite urban fantasy series: The Walker Papers by C. E. Murphy, and The October Daye books by Seanan McGuire. Even though I came late to it, this book has quickly made its way into the autobuy category for me. Preorder even, although I know that Amazon is totally going to screw me over on pricing somewhere around day 8.

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Blade Song & Night Blade by JC Daniels

Title:Blade Song
Author:JC Daniels
PublisherShiloh Walker, Inc
Publication Date:August 2012
Publisher's DescriptionKit Colbana - half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades - has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.
So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters - especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails - she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee...
My rating:****


Title:Night Blade
Author:Shiloh Walker
PublisherShiloh Walker, Inc
Publication Date:March 2013
Publisher's DescriptionKit Colbana is always biting off more than she can chew. She has a knack for finding trouble. This time, though, trouble finds her. Someone from her past drops a case into her lap that she just can’t refuse...literally.
People on the Council are dying left and right and she’s been requested to investigate the deaths. The number one suspect? Her lover, Damon. If she doesn't clear his name, he gets a death sentence. Even if she succeeds? They still might try to execute him. Oh, and she’s not allowed to tell him about the case, either.

The stakes are high this time around, higher than they've ever been. Kit may be forced to pay the ultimate price to save her lover’s life...a price that could destroy her and everything she loves.
My rating:***** (squijillion)

I read Blade Song and immediately moved onto Night Blade. I think I read the two books in about 5 hours (let’s hear it for vacation). I really like Kit and felt bad enough about her childhood after reading Blade Song that all the things she went through in Night Blade were really hard for me to take. None of the horrors that she survives in this series have ever felt gratuitous to me, and I found them even more gut-wrenching because I care so much about Kit as a character. I am certain that the third book, which comes out in two more days (dying here btw), will give me the payoff that I began to see glimmers of at the end of Night Blade.

Although this series centers around Kit, there are so many characters in it who are clearly going through a lot and growing all the time. Damon! Doyle! Goliath! Colleen! Chang! Doyle! I know I said him twice, but he’s like the leopard little brother that my parents neglected to give me. I really love how integral the secondary characters are to what is going on in the world. While I think it’s crazy that I just learned about this series the other day (I’ve bought book one ages ago and then promptly forgot that it existed), I’m happy, too, otherwise I would have had a much longer wait to get to the third book. Now, of course, I am going to go back and read everything else written by Shiloh Walker (whose pen name is JC Daniels) to tide me over until next week. I would give this series five squijillion stars, and since this is my web site and my rating system, I totally can, but I’ll just limit myself to five and call it a day.

Trigger warning: This book contains rape and copious physical abuse.

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