VENGEANCE OF THE DEMON BY DIANA ROWLAND

rating
(Kara Gillian, #7
URBAN FANTASY


Demon summoner Kara Gillian is on the wrong side of the law, and there's evidence to prove it. Too bad the courts don't accept "fighting demonic forces" as justification for murder and mayhem.

Yet Kara has problems that go way beyond her legal woes. When the enemy demonic lords spur their human accomplices into high gear, master summoner Katashi aggressively pursues their goal to establish a permanent gate between Earth and the demon realm. To hell with the consequences for humanity.

The line between ally and enemy blurs as Kara gathers the remnants of her posse to prevent a devastating demonic incursion, but a shattered trust may cost them the war and put Kara behind bars. With treachery rife, and her loved ones in danger, Kara must call upon the essence of who she truly is in order to rally back from a crushing loss.

And if she can't, the world is going straight to hell.


I missed Diana Rowland's writing - she puts genuinely laugh-out-loud funny lines in the middle of top-notch, nail biting action scenes. She does the unusual twist of taking a character you once liked and making you despise them the next book (or vice versa). This isn't a perfect book, but it's close to five star rating.

I dig Kara - she's great to friends, loyal, fair, doesn't pick on people for their differences, has a fun sense of humor and realistic self-esteem. On the negative side, she gets too cocky in the face of an enemy and irritates me with taking too much joy fawning when she gets the power - brings my opinion of her down. I didn't like a change in this book with her powers either, hope she returns to normal next book. To me that was a huge part of the main character - and since it's first person POV, if she can't do it anymore, *I* can't experience the uniqueness anymore either.

Surprising betrayal about a family member, but at least I never cared much about that person anyway. Mzatal blended into the background, barely there, and I'm over that. Really I thought the scene where he and Kara decided what he must do for the sake of saving the worlds was the worst written scene in the book - rang false, making them both seem one dimensional.

Rowland likes to get one attached to a potential relationship bubble and then pop it with a sudden jab of a freakishly sharp and huge needle the next book over. Since I go a year between reading these, I can emotionally disconnect a little but I can't imagine reading these books and getting that slap in the face book-back to book-back. You may need a swipe or two of shipping anesthesia.

But toss the previous demon lord intrigues aside, they're old news, I adored Pellini. He tugged on my heartstrings with his awkwardness, loyalty, and just....cute, unassuming charm. I never jumped on the other demon lord bandwagon anyway (it was oddly clinical), although I'm not saying that's over, for it certainly isn't for Kara. Not saying it's over in the books but my loyalties are stirred and shaken.

Ryan is sadly rarely around. Zack may end up less unlikeable than he actually was. There's a twist in the end, could go all sorts of directions.

As always lots of twist and turns - old things twisted to make surprises, new things popping up to bring forth further complication. The book progresses the story but I can see parts that were a little bit filler as well, for there's little progression in the main story arc. We instead get subtle bumps to existing players.

That said, Rowland's writing style is such fun that her words addict me. Kara's internal monologue is cleverly amusing. Some plot regression flaws aside, loved revisiting Kara's world and can't wait to revisit it again.


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Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

rating
(BERNIE RHODENBARR #1)
MYSTERY


Bernie Rhodenbarr is a personable chap, a good neighbor, a passable poker player. His chosen profession, however, might not sit well with some. Bernie is a burglar, a good one, effortlessly lifting valuables from the not-so-well-protected abodes of well-to-do New Yorkers like a modern-day Robin Hood. (The poor, as Bernie would be the first to tell you, alas, have nothing worth stealing.)

He's not perfect, however; he occasionally makes mistakes. Like accepting a paid assignment from a total stranger to retrieve a particular item from a rich man's apartment. Like still being there when the cops arrive. Like having a freshly slain corpse lying in the next room, and no proof that Bernie isn't the killer.

Now he's really got his hands full, having to locate the true perpetrator while somehow eluding the police -- a dirty job indeed, but if Bernie doesn't do it, who will?


“Imaginative persons could probably find interesting things to do with handcuffs and a nightstick.”

Cozies are fun, but every genre needs variety to stay interesting for the reader. The same old can get ... well, old after awhile. This book delivers that twist by having the main character be an unapologetic cat burglar who opens the book breaking into an apartment, enjoying it, and then getting caught up in a far worse crime.

It may be morally wrong, but the quirk works, especially since Bernie is fun. He has his criminal morals and decent values, despite his knack for theft, so remains likeable. Definitely not the typical doe-eyed cozy lead. The lead detective is as funny as Bernie himself.

Berney is a character not duplicated in many other cozies - I like the charm of them but this one brings a punch of fun, something different, a crossing of the moral lines, a little humor, first person POV.

I have to say this book has the funniest cozy body discovery I've read about - ever.

Mystery wise, it works since the MC gets clues, follows leads, gets misdirected and solves the mystery cleverly enough, stylish speech and all. This follows up with an end twist that I didn't see coming. And no, I didn't guess the culprit. Ms. Sherlock Holmes I am not. Looking back it makes sense but it's not something I noticed, so mystery kudos to the author.

If you enjoy fun but not obnoxiously sweet/sappy humor mysteries, you may like this one. I know Lawrence Block has a highly regarded reputation and these aren't considered his best. Still, enjoyed this intro to him here.

Definitely a series I'll continue reading. Appreciated the afterword from the author with the details of how he came up with the concept, funny how those ideas work.


   Book Quotes:

“As my grandmother used to say, if you've got nothing good to say about someone, let's hear it.”

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ENFORCER BY ROB COLTON

rating
(Timber Pack Chronicles, #2)
M/M ROMANCE, PARANORMAL


Jed Stone suffers in silence, damaged and poisoned from his fight with the rogue wolf. But he puts on a smile and does his duty, making sure his Timber Pack mates are safe.

Buzz Hinske belongs to a traditional lycan pack. Challenges and violence seem to be their way of life.

When they come together at the annual Lycan Conclave, Jed is elated at finding his destined mate. Unfortunately, Buzz has already been promised to another...


The first book in this series, Timber Pack Chronicles, may not have been perfect - but it was close on the erotica scale. I was seriously glued to that book (the drama, the intensity, the buildup, then the...), so of course I had to read this sequel right after. In some ways this book shone and worked well, and in some areas it just wasn't as good, as intense, as the first book.

The length is shorter since the pack has been introduced and established. Now there's just a relationship to focus on, and a sweet one it is. I liked Jeb from the first one, but it was told in an outsider perspective and made him seem a little like a arrogant perv. In this one he's more likeable as we're in his head. The book opens where he's depressed and withdrawing; the scene where he walked off alone from the pack when they had transformed was especially sobering. Shrug this off and we get to the meet with Buzz, where they first locked contact. It was ridiculously sweet, I couldn't put the book down that moment even if someone tried to force me to.

A flaw with the sequel is Parker. I dug him in the first book but egads, when did he get so annoying? I get he's effeminate, but he overdoes the waterworks and is so weak in this book its a turn-off. Colton is still in badass alpha mode but even this got overbearing, especially with his impatience concerning Jeb's grief at the table. Also, why be so dickish to his father? I get the man pissed him off but surely you can get over it and move on now? The father has tried to get over this rift. Now that Colton has Parker and his pack he makes it clear he could care less whether he ever sees his father again. That's wrong on multiple levels, whether you take into consideration shifter hormones and politics or not.

It would be dull and make little sense to read about the exact same character types as the first book. The author doesn't do that here - clearly Buzz is less submissive than Parker, but he's still ideal for Jeb, who again is less dominating and alpha than Colton. They work, they really do, and it's sweet. The erotica scenes were less intense, but that tree scene excelled. The bedroom count was lower too - less pages and less opportunity for that, but it didn't need any more than it contained. I kind of skimmed on those scenes anyway. Again the dialogue was a little too much during intimate moments, must be a personal preference.

The parting of them and the thing keeping them apart was strong, but I'm glad the author didn't drag it out. Overall Enforcer is a shorter book and, while not as good as the original, it's still a worthy sequel to read if you enjoyed Timber Pack Chronicles as much as I did. Wish Colton had more paranormal erotica written.


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