Posted in Book Review

Ever Alice by H.J. Ramsay

Read Dates: September 18, 2021 – September 21, 2021
Date Published: August 1, 2019
Source: ebook

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Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

**Thank you to H.J. Ramsay and Red Rogue Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

Hi. So uhh… as you can see, I finished this book a couple of weeks ago… I’ve honestly been putting off writing this review because I HATE writing reviews on books I didn’t like. But I felt like I needed to be true to the reason I started this blog in the first place and true to the people that read my reviews and let y’all know… I didn’t like this one.

I love retellings. If you follow my blog posts you know I am a serious SUCKER for a retelling. So when I saw this one, I got excited! An Alice in Wonderland retelling where Alice is a psych patient? That sounded AMAZING to me. But it was nothing I hoped. Nothing I expected. I was bored. I wanted to like it! I really did! I really tried to love the story but I was so, so incredibly bored.

When I think “Alice in Wonderland” I think silly, out of the blue, unexpected, straight up NONSENSE. But that’s not what happened.

This book was full of characters I couldn’t connect with. I didn’t feel anything for a single character. There were moments in the book that should have made me gasp and my heart should have ached but it didn’t. It just didn’t. Because I couldn’t have cared less about any of the characters in this book.

Alice annoyed me most of the way through. She wasn’t a constant character. She didn’t stick to one personality. She cycled through many. Which I guess would be appropriate since she’s a psych patient and that’s sort of the point but it made the entire story feel sloppy and forced. She couldn’t do a single thing unless someone told her to do it and it was incredibly frustrating.

Speaking of forced… the elements of Wonderland and some of the happenings felt forced. It felt like the author was trying to shove every well-known element of Wonderland into this story in a new way that we hadn’t seen but it didn’t work for me because, again, it felt forced.

The prince. Let’s talk about the Prince of Wonderland. That whole storyline didn’t make a lick of sense either. I couldn’t connect with him and I couldn’t bring myself to care what he was doing and with whom. His presence wasn’t even needed in this story. I feel like he was just added for a “romance” element that the book could have done without.

Now, I suppose these things would make sense and they would sort of go with the ending of the story, which I saw coming unfortunately, but when I read an Alice in Wonderland retelling, I want to feel the wonder. I want to be dazzled and I want to hear all the silly fast-paced Wonderland banter. Sometimes we would get tiny snippets of that classic Wonderland but then suddenly the book would shift back and it didn’t feel like we were in Wonderland at all. It felt like a regular story in a regular world full of regular characters where regular things happened and nothing out of the ordinary ever occurred.

I’m just sad and disappointed. Maybe it’s my own fault. Maybe I went into this book with my expectations too high and my excitement level a little through the roof. However, I’ve sat on thoughts of this book for weeks and I still can’t get past how utterly plain it was. No story about Wonderland should be so plain. It should stick with you. It should have you recalling moments and laughing at how silly it was. The parts of the story that were meant to be climaxes just continued to feel like the rest of the story. It didn’t feel like anything exciting was happening. I never felt I needed to hold my breath for what was to come because the story held the same monotonous tone the entire way through. This story was forgettable and I’m just really disappointed.

ALL THAT BEING SAID, I would never straight up tell someone to not read this book. I’ve seen rave reviews on this book. Lots of them. This book has won awards and has come incredibly close to winning others. It’s been a finalist in many “best book” categories. So if you came here to read this review because this book sounded interesting to you and you thought you might like it, I implore you, go read it! Chances are you’ll think differently than me. Everyone perceives differently. Don’t let my sad review deter you.

Just be warned that there are no happy endings in this book. Which is usually a plus for me, but this time it wasn’t. Things aren’t going to work out the way you want them to in ANY situation. That’s all I’ll say to avoid spoilers but… yea. Go see for yourself if you feel so inclined.

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Read Dates: September 3, 2021 – September 9, 2021
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Kindle ebook

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From Goodreads:

When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.

Three years later, Rachelle has given her life to serving the realm, fighting deadly creatures in an effort to atone. When the king orders her to guard his son Armand—the man she hates most—Rachelle forces Armand to help her find the legendary sword that might save their world. As the two become unexpected allies, they uncover far-reaching conspiracies, hidden magic, and a love that may be their undoing. In a palace built on unbelievable wealth and dangerous secrets, can Rachelle discover the truth and stop the fall of endless night?

Another Rosamund Hodge book down! Rosamund is one of my favorite authors for multiple reasons. One: she wrote one of my all time favorite books, Cruel Beauty. Two: she has the most amazing short stories I’ve ever read in my life. Three: she makes me feel eerie and romantic and intrigued, and enthralled all at the same time and I LOVE IT. I could go on and on. Another huge thing for me is her retellings. I LOVE a good retelling. Cruel Beauty gave us a spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast, Gilded Ashes gave us a creepy and incredibly enjoyable spin on Cinderella, and Crimson Bound gave us a magically sinister spin on Little Red Riding Hood with a hint of Rumpelstiltskin. I’m such a sucker for retellings and she NAILS them every time.

That being said, this was actually my least favorite of her retellings thus far. I still got the creepy vibe I love to have but the story wasn’t as enticing as the previous two. Which, I mean, with something like Cruel Beauty in existence, it’s hard to compare. Especially when that was my first Rosamund Hodge novel.

When I read one of her books, I have to take a few days to marinate in what I just read before writing a review. When I come out of one of her books I’m in a trance. A happy, “I wanna go back into the book’s world” trance. This one was no exception. I had all the happy, giddy feels that I always get when I finish one of her stories. So I took a few days to reflect and realized, it wasn’t my favorite.

So in this retelling, Rachelle meets with a forestborn in the Great Forest regularly, feeling like she has made a trusted friend in him. Soon, she is betrayed and is forced into a life as a relentless murderer. She watches over the city as one of the King’s “bloodbound”, killing any woodspawn who enter the city and threaten the villages and their people. Though, her end goal always remains the same: Find the legendary sword, Joyeuse, and kill the Devourer for good, freeing the bloodbound like her and relinquishing the world from the threats of the woodspawn and the forestborn.

“Something my aunt told me once. She said that you always had to choose between the path of needles and the path of pins. When a dress is torn, you know, you can just pin it up, or you can take the time to sew it together. That’s what it means. The quick and easy way, or the painful way that works.”

She ends up forcing the man she’s been charged by the king to protect into helping her locate the sword; as her time is limited with the looming reemergence of the Devourer.

I know what you’re thinking… she’s guarding a guy… sooo…. probably they end up falling in love?

Well, rest easy, this isn’t really a romance novel. Though, I will warn you ahead of time, if you don’t enjoy even the slightest hint of a love triangle… well then… this book isn’t for you. It’s not explored very much. Maybe just a few chapters total. This book is in no way oversaturated with the love triangle aspect. But just know, it’s there. (Love triangles just happen to be one of my guilty pleasures. :D)

Her throat tightened. It was unfair—it was absolutely unfair that his voice could make her heart beat with jagged, idiotic hope…
He grinned at her, and it felt like there was no space or barrier at all between them, like his smile was happening inside her heart. Without meaning to at all, she smiled back.

Anywho, I LOVED the world that was built into this book. The Great Forest, the woodwives and their “witchcraft”, and the building dread we get knowing that the Devourer is on his way to eat the sun and the moon and bring the world into eternal darkness where the woodspawn and forestborn will feast on the living and go on living forever as greater beings. It was a really fascinating book. Everything was so well thought out and executed and I liked it a lot. I just didn’t love it.

They didn’t even care that she was one of the rare women with permission from the King to carry a sword and a dispensation from the Church to wear men’s clothing. Not when her red coat was embroidered on each shoulder with a black fleur-de-lis, symbol of the Royal Order of Penitents. The King’s bloodbound. The King’s pet murderers.

Most of the book was just Rachelle being mean to people and then fretting over it later. Or reassuring herself of why it was necessary to be mean to those people. Granted, her character build is really fun to watch. But it’s also a bit exasperating. I get the need she feels to not trust anyone but herself but she makes some really stupid decisions that, honestly, made me cringe. I understand why they ultimately happened in the book, but that didn’t mean I had to like them. And I didn’t.

Was the ending worth it? I mean, yea? It wasn’t as definitive as I would have liked it to be. The way things happened was super cool and I didn’t see it coming… but I felt like I needed like one or two more chapters.

This is the human way, she thought. On the edge of destruction, at the end of all things, we still dance. And hope.

Overall this was really enjoyable. Just not one of my favorites. This book will likely be one of the ones I’ll have to go back to my notes in order to remember exactly what went on. Whereas books like, you guessed it, Cruel Beauty, are still so fresh in my mind even after all these years. Honestly, so is Guilded Ashes. But I highly doubt this one will be. But DAMN IT if it doesn’t have some good lines in it. Classic Hodge, I tell ya.

“The problem with martyrs is that they’re all dead. What have they got to do with those of us who are sinful enough to still be alive? Should we just give up and want to die, because death is better than dishonor? But suicide is a sin too, so then we really are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

I’ve been looking at the Bright Smoke, Cold Fire series and I’ve thought about reading it but I’m not huge on Romeo and Juliet unless you’re Leo Dicaprio and Claire Danes. It IS a retelling though, so maybe it’ll be more enjoyable to me than the original was.

Next up on my reading list are a couple of books that I got via netgalley back in 2019. One is a young adult novel and the other is a mystery/suspense. So stay tuned!

Keep spreading kindness and positivity. ✌💛

Posted in Book Review

The Warlord by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: August 10, 2021 – August 12, 2021
Date Published: April 20, 2021
Source: Owned signed and DOODLED hardback

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For centuries, Taliyah Skyhawk has prepared to become Harpy General, leader of the deadliest female army in existence. One of the requirements? Remain a virgin. But, for a chance to save her people, she must wed the fearless leader of the Astra Planeta, Alaroc Phaethon.

The time has come for Roc to sacrifice another virgin bride to his god. There has never been a woman alluring enough to tempt him from his path. No warrioress powerful enough to overcome his incredible strength. No enchantress desirable enough to make him burn beyond reason. Until now.

With the clock ticking, war between husband and wife ignites. Except Taliyah never expected the merciless king to challenge the future she once envisioned. She certainly never anticipated the thrill of their battles turning into games… The problem is, only one spouse can survive.

Love is a battlefield in Showalter’s The Warlord.

Well well well. What do we have here? A new favorite Showalter couple to add to the top of my list? Roc and Taliyah. Who’d have known? I sure wouldn’t have.

I’ve never been a hero. I’ve never wanted to be. I make a better villain.

I honestly thought, before reading this, that I wasn’t going to care for these characters too much. It sounded too much like another couple I had already read and disliked. *cough* William *cough*. Anyway, I was wrong. I liked Roc from the very start. I don’t know what it was about him but he had me. 100% had me. Taliyah was also incredibly enjoyable to read. I enjoyed reading about her history and REALLY enjoyed her spirit. I only rolled my eyes at her like… I don’t know… twice?

“I hear you’re holding auditions for Bloodthirstiest Harpy, and I’m here for my reading.”

The two of them together… even better.

They both learn and grow together so much more fluently than some of the other couples in the series and it made me feel like it was actually a genuine relationship. Some of the others I’ve read felt rushed or like they just straight hated each other and then it all changes at the drop of a hat. This was not that. These two were actually logical people who only wanted to protect themselves and the people they loved. And when they came to realize there was a new “people they loved”, they changed their actions accordingly. Love it. Top notch.

Something else I really enjoyed was the ending. I was reading and reading and realized there weren’t but a handful of pages left and I panicked. So often I find the end coming in a rush and feeling a bit ridiculous… but… THIS ONE MADE SENSE. It was beautiful. I followed it. It was logical. It wasn’t a giant leap and then a sudden crash. It built tension, the tension grew and grew, I realized I had stopped breathing and then BOOM. The climax hit. (For the plot… c’mon get your mind out of the gutter…) But this climax didn’t crash and burn. It hit and it made me read faster. I needed to know how this was going to play out! I needed to know what was going to happen next!

And THAT, my friends, is what I like in an ending. Don’t give me everything in two pages. Build it, work it, let it linger, let it whack me in the face, and then let it plateau for a while. Let the tension stay high for a few pages before you give me my reprieve.

For me, that’s one of the biggest things that set this book apart from most of the other Gena books I’ve read.

If you’ve read any of Gena’s other books, you may be excited to see some other characters you’ve already met. Which ones though?? Hmmmmm? That was a pretty cool part of the book. I must say I get excited when I see people I know. Especially when their stories have already been told and we’re seeing them on the other side of it.

These were two genuinely wonderful characters who played out perfectly and in line with their personality types. I truly enjoyed this book so much.

This book wasn’t so predictable that I could see the ending from the very beginning. I was along for the ride and learning as I went which was another beautiful thing about this story.

I should probably apologize for my tardiness, and I will, just as soon as I’m sorry. As your men are proving with their nineinch salutes, I’m totally worth the wait. Well, he’s giving me ten.” She winked at Silver. “Bravo, sir.”

So, all that being said… there is a second Warlords book coming out February 1, 2022. I have to say, I’m not all that excited for it. I’d rather have had Ian’s story or Roux’s. Even Silver’s! But we’re getting Halo’s. And while I understand why we’re getting his next, I’m not super excited. He was probably my least favorite character throughout this entire story.

Will I end up picking it up anyway? *sigh* Probably. When it comes to Gena I’m like a moth to a flame. I can’t stay away. The little temptress.

I’ll tell ya what I WILL be picking up (as I have already preordered it..) This little diddy:

FINALLY, we get Viola’s book. It’s set to release December 7, 2021, which seems like a LIFETIME away, but I’ll be there for it. I’m a little saddened to see Viola just gets a novella and not a full blown book. I bet Viola would feel the same way, honestly. The keeper of narcissism deserves the biggest book in the series! Am I right?
But regardless, I will be devouring that book the day it hits my kindle. Keep your eyes peeled!

If you’re curious about my mention of a signed and DOODLED copy of The Warlord, let me just boast a moment. So, I never win anything… ANYTHING. But I won this copy of the Warlord from a really hard “find the differences” challenge given to Gena’s Legions by Gena’s tricky little minx of a social media manager, Naomi. I was so excited I SQUEALED when Naomi posted that I was the winner. Here’s a picture of the doodle inside. I will cherish it forever. 💛

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Read Dates: July 27, 2021 – July 28, 2021
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Source: Owned Hardback

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From Goodreads:

In this family, everyone is keeping secrets–especially the dead. Brecken Hill in upstate New York is an expensive place to live. You have to be rich to have a house there. And they don’t come much richer than Fred and Sheila Mercer. But even all their money can’t protect them when a killer comes to call. The Mercers are brutally murdered the night after an Easter Dinner with their three adult kids. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their capricious father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did one of them snap after that dreadful evening? Or was it someone else that night who crept in with the worst of intentions? It must be. After all, if one of your siblings was a psychopath, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

When I see a Shari Lapena book available for preorder, I preorder it. I rarely even look to see what the book is about. This woman consistently brings the most amazing page-turners I have ever read. I finished this book in just three sittings… and I have a 14-month-old running around wrecking things all day. So they weren’t long sessions. But that’s how easy it is to read her books.

I may have said this before in a previous Lapena mystery novel review, but when you begin one of her books, you may think to yourself that there are too many characters and you’re not going to be able to keep up with who is who. There were only a couple, out of her now 6 books, that did that to me – where I felt I had to make a character sheet so I could quickly remember who I was dealing with and how they fit into the story. This book wasn’t one of them.

Lapena writes in such a way that you never lose sight of the big picture because of confusing variables along the way. She keeps things flowing smoothly and efficiently. I never got bored at any point of this book. Which became a real problem because I had to find a stopping point! But there aren’t any! This book was so amazing. It’ll keep you flipping those pages with the determination to finish the entire book in one sitting.

One of my favorite things about this book was that almost none of the characters were likable. One of them was slightly likable but none of them were likable enough for me to root for them or hope they weren’t the killer.

So, Fred and Sheila Merton are dead. The prime suspects? Their three children: Catherine, Dan, and Jenna. But WHO ACTUALLY DUN’IT!? Were two of them (or all of them) in on it together? Was it just one of them acting alone? Was it someone other than one of the three kids?!

I thought I had things all figured out. And I usually do. Butttt I didn’t. At no point in this book did I have anything figured out. Whether it be a side effect from my mom brain or the fact that I was in a trance reading this because of how captivating it was or maybe just because it was THAT well written? I cannot say because I truly have no idea. But this was such an amazing book that I didn’t really care, I was just happy to be along for the ride. This book just catapulted to the top as my favorite Shari Lapena novel to date. She really outdid herself on this one.

As for errors, I only found two. One was the use of “of” instead of “if”. The other was the use of the name Dan instead of Ted. I didn’t mark down page numbers or count against this book in terms of the rating because I simply didn’t have the capacity to do anything other than to hurry along the pages to find out who on Earth killed Fred and Sheila.

I can’t leave here without saying something about the ending. Obviously I’m not going to give anything away but let me just say… THAT ENDING. Omg. I was gaping at my book and then I was smirking and then I may have even giggled a little. I wish I could say more. I’m recommending this book to everyone I know so I can hear them all say, “Ok, but that ending, right!?” Even if I don’t know you, feel free to shoot me a message and give me a, “Girl, that ending though, right!?!”

If you’re a fan of whodun’it books with SO MANY TWISTS where there are no likable characters and they all could be the killer because they’re all terrible people… well then this is your book. What a delightful (but a little too quick, my bad) read.

I know it’s only been two days but I’m ready for the next one Shari! 😀

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Worldlines: A “Many Worlds” Novel by Adam Guest

Read Dates: July 10, 2021 – July 11, 2021
Date Published: May 30, 2020
Source: Free ebook via OnineBookClub.org in exchange for an honest review

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From Amazon:

Worldlines is the first novel in the Many Worlds series, and is a psychological thriller sitting firmly in the science fiction genre. Specifically, it resides in the visionary and metaphysical sub-genre, as well as using elements of hard science fiction and magical realism.

The Many Worlds series of novels imply that we live in a multiverse, and that everything that we experience is true in some manner or another. Not just the world around us that we see every day, but also our dreams and our hallucinations. The books hypothesise that these dreams and hallucinations allow each of us to see other worldlines within the multiverse and, in the context of lucid dreaming, be able to control someone else’s life. You will then explore various worldlines within that multiverse, and the devastating consequences when they inadvertently interact with one another.

Taking that hypothesis further, if we really do live in a multiverse, it would open up the possibility of immortality for each of us. The idea that our consciousness would always choose the path of least resistance, and therefore regardless of the scenario, we would always experience survival from our own perspective. In layman’s terms that means that if you and I were involved in an accident, you could experience my death, I may experience yours, but we’d both survive from our own perspective. We’d both continue to live our lives in separate worldlines.

This psychological thriller uses the butterfly effect to explore how different one person’s life can be based on what, at the time, appear the most trivial of actions. But sometimes, actions in one worldline, can have catastrophic consequences in another.
Follow the many lives of Gary Jackson through this hard science fiction novel, as with the assistance of his true love, Michelle Peyton, his best friend, Sinead O’Brien, and his physics tutor, Professor Leyton Buzzard, they attempt to unravel the secrets of the multiverse.

At time of writing the book, described as a metaphysical treat by Independent Book Review, has received over 200 4/4 reviews from the readers of Online Book Club, and currently sits 12th in their ongoing Book Of The Year poll for 2020, 5th in the science fiction category. It will also be featured as their Book Of The Month in July 2021.
Meanwhile, in another place, Physics student Gary Jackson finds himself in prison for a murder he has no memory of committing. Can the dreamer help the student get acquitted for a murder everyone saw him commit? Or will Gary spend his life in prison for someone else’s crime?

WOW. Just… wow. I will admit that at first, I was a bit bored. I felt the author was rambling a bit and I wrote in my notes, “What is this guy on about?” Well, I’ll tell ya… I wasn’t ready. I was in NO WAY ready. I arrived at a chapter where it was incredibly clear I was still residing with the same characters but the situation had completely changed. But it would, wouldn’t it? If, say, we were in a different dimension.

I love science fiction books but this was not what I am used to. I’m used to space stories complete with battles and interplanetary weaponry. Or stories about other species on different planets and the trials and climates they face. Not this. This was crazy! This was a whole new experience for me and I loved it!

Our main characters that we revolve around throughout each worldline are Gary, Michelle, and Sinead. Along with their families, of course. Sinead’s mother, Mary, plays a huge role in this story as well if you ask me. Mainly, though, Gary who finds that his professor might not be far off on his in depth tangent on life or death situations along with all the possible outcomes and the idea that all the possible outcomes have been played out in other parallel universes. This intrigued me from the start and I was excited to see where the story would go since there was NO WAY this book would have focused on this tangent so closely if it wasn’t going to matter later.

Is it not possible that whilst we sleep, our consciousness drifts into neighbouring Worldlines, passing through different eventualities, each one making perfect sense in that moment? Yet you wake up, you remember the journey through those Worldlines, and it’s only then you think about the lack of continuity. At this point, you just shrug it off as a weird dream, but I wake up in a morning, and I can recall a dream. This means I have made conscious memories, in my sleep, whilst I was unconscious. How do you explain that?”

What, then, would happen if you became entangled in the crimes of a version of you from a parallel universe? What if you did something to land yourself in cuffs but you have no memory of doing it as it wasn’t you who did it in the first place? It was, instead, a you from a parallel universe. These are the things that kept me up at night.

Seriously though, after four hours of non stop reading and obsessing over the premise of this novel, I decided I should never sleep again, lest I end up in a parallel universe by accident and do something to ruin that dimension’s me.

Is any of this making sense?

This question brings me to my next point on this book. The author made this wild and complex idea into a story that was easily followed. Not once did I get lost in all the science behind what was happening. Guest wrote this book in a way that we could all understand and appreciate what was going on. While reading this book, you’ll jump back and forth between all the different worldlines, but the way he presents it is so easy to follow. Not once did I have to go back to make sure I understood what I just read.

“I can’t process all of this,” I said. “It’s like there’s been a glitch in the matrix.” “That would be no more far-fetched a theory than you having been possessed by someone from another Worldline,” she commented.

I found myself gasping out loud multiple times while reading this. I was so enthralled by what was going on. I never could have seen any of it coming. It was fantastic! When I finally finished reading that first night, I kept my husband up talking about the book and debating what this might mean if the theories in this story were real. And if I’m being honest, this book has me believing.

This book is a wild ride and I wish I could say more but I really don’t want to give anything away. This book was so much fun to read and I would highly recommend it to anyone with an open mind who loves sci-fi mind-benders.

I mean, honestly, where else can you get a book that give you a sad ending, a happy ending, and a cliffhanger simultaneously!?

If you like reading books that make you forget who you are and where you are, I implore you to read this. But don’t just read it, become it. Do whatever you have to do to get in the zone so that there is nothing except you and this book. If you can immerse yourself completely, it is a wonderfully mind-boggling experience that will have you up at night wondering what parallel universe yous might do to your universe. 😉

But unconsciousness, and sleep by definition, would seem to disprove that theory. And yet we dream and make conscious memories in our sleep. The two facts don’t tally. There must be a missing link.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Heartless by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: June 29, 2021 – July 2, 2021
Date Published: June 29, 2021
Source: Kindle ebook

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From Goodreads:

Kaysar the Unhinged One, fae King of Midnight, can drive anyone to madness with his song. A ruthless warrior forged in hate, he lives to force his enemies to their knees. He will stop at nothing to succeed—even abducting and seducing his foe’s beloved bride to ensure his own child one day sits on the male’s throne. Except, his prize escapes to the mortal realm before the first kiss, her heart transplanted into a human beauty with dangerous secrets…

Chantel “Cookie” Bardot is a professional gamer girl great at trash-talking, bad at peopling. After a long-awaited surgery, she begins to morph into a powerful fae princess. Catapulted into a strange land ruled by a cruel but seductive villain, she must battle flesh-and-blood monsters and navigate royal intrigues. But the true danger is Kaysar, whose every wicked touch tempts her beyond reason. Should she run…or descend into the darkness with him?

Gena does it again. She creates another round of characters who are completely unique despite the amount of characters she has already created in numerous past books. Not only are these characters unique but they remain true to their ideals the same way all her other characters in all the other universes she has created have done.

Kaysar is a man obsessed with vengeance. Vengeance for the things he has endured and the things he has lost. He cares not who dies by his hand, unless they happen to be someone he deems worthy of survival so that he might torture them for the remainder of their lives.

…the tattoo on his bicep. A snake curled into a figure eight, eating its own tail, with a sword running through its center. His kingdom’s symbol, meaning “eternal war.”

Cookie is a mortal in need of a heart transplant. Once she finally receives her new heart, she finds herself morphing into a fae princess from the very realm Kaysar is from. Cookie has always had a lust for murder and violence but has always kept it at bay since the mortal world frowns upon that sort of thing. However, once in Astaria, that all changes once she meets the murder hungry Kaysar and gets a taste of life in a fae realm where anything goes.

“Oh, Kaysar. Isn’t this amazing?” Never had she felt so giddy. So alive. “My first actual battle. They threatened us, and now I get to kill them all by myself.”

This book was incredibly enjoyable and I think I might be holding back half a star for things I may end up getting in future books, but bear with me.

I was pumped for this book because it was called an “Immortal Enemies” book. So my head immediately went to “enemies to lovers” which is one of my favorite things to read. It wasn’t really that, though. I guess they were sort of enemies in the beginning, like, the VERY beginning, but they ended up teaming up rather quickly with separate end goals in mind. Still, not the enemies I was expecting.

These two fought, like, a lot. Though, I didn’t mind it because it kept them both true to their characters. They’re both very strong willed and hard-headed, so it made sense that they would be at odds with each other at some point or another. And they are. For most of the book. There’s always something going on with these two. 9 times out of 10, it’s hilarious. But the last squabble they had was a bit much for me. Another reason for my deduction of the half star, the last squabble and it’s resolve didn’t really work for me. Someone who Kaysar has been at odds with for 70% of the book makes one small comment and that is the thing that makes Kaysar rethink his anger and causes him to apologize to Cookie. Meh. Not really true to his character there… BUT, I think we’re going to see more of these two in future Immortal Enemies books and I’m excited for that. There were a couple of things that were left unresolved and a thing or two that never gave us a sense of finality. But I think we may end up seeing some of that unravel in the future if this series is going to be anything like the Lords of the Underworld series. Regardless, I’ll be here for it because I love Gena and I love these characters she creates.

Look at her. His Briar Rose, the embodiment of destruction and the most breathtaking sight in all the lands.

Now, the violence, let’s talk about the violence.

I loved it. And not in a way that I was just cheering on every death and never thinking the people maybe didn’t deserve to die. When Gena gives us a new character, she tells us what they’re like, what their morals or lack of morals are and she ALWAYS follows through. In that respect, I loved the violence in this book. Most books will tell you the characters are ruthless and violent but they don’t follow through. Gena’s characters most certainly followed through. Mind you, some were spared, mostly by Cookie. BUT, Cookie dished out some carnage too. It was really fun to read if I’m being honest. (And I am.)

I have to mention Peal Jean!!! And Sugars!! It’s not everyday you find a book with a 26 year old living with a 62 year old who is also her best friend. And Sugars the cat… I love cats, and the fact that Sugars was thrown into this and described as a “panther” made me picture my house panther throughout the book. Those two were a lot of fun to read and just as combative and chaotic as Cookie.

All in all, this was a good read. Gena’s book are written in a way that they seem like they’ve flown by. You look down and realize you’re suddenly 75% of the way through the book when you literally just started it a couple hours ago.

If you like steamy sex scenes, a couple that bickers but always finds their way back together, 62 year old roommates with a great sense of humor, and absolute, total, unrelenting CARNAGE… this is your book. Go get it. Go read it. Go love it. It’s a good one.

“Sometimes you can’t see the end until you get to the middle.” A trick she’d learned sacking digital fortresses. “Imma go get in that middle.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: April 19, 2021 – June 26, 2021
Date Published: March 30, 2021
Source: Owned Hardback

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the instant #1 New York Times-bestselling King of Scars Duology.

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

First of all, that synopsis gave me chills when I first read it. How could you possibly read that and not want to dive right into this book!? Ughh.
Secondly, that cover art. Especially after reading the book and understanding why the image made the cover. *More chills*
And lastly, *sigh* Leigh Bardugo, you little minx. You have a large piece of my literary heart. I can’t imagine life on a planet without this woman’s books.

So this is the second in the King of Scars series by Bardugo. We’re still very much in the Grisha universe, we’re just quite a ways down the line book-wise. Ya know, like 8 books down the line. (Holy moly. I just turned to look at my bookshelf where Bardugo’s books sit and counted the 7 books before this one. Am I really that deep into this!?) Anyway, King of Scars follows Nikolai’s story. In King of Scars we met the privateer/prince of Ravka become King. He’s witty, he’s full of jokes, and he can’t take many things seriously. From the beginning, he became one of my all time favorites in the Grisha universe. Though, I was just a little sad as to where I felt his storyline would end up. Boy was I wrong. YOU. LITTLE. MINX.

“Men who see too much have a way of losing their eyes.” “And queens who trust too little have a way of losing their thrones.”

Ravka isn’t doing too hot in the military area and they’re not very plentiful when it comes to friends either. The Shu-Han Queen, Makhi plots against Ravka as do the Fjerdans and their brutal general, Jarl Brum. But with a super witty King and a relentlessly powerful Grisha Squaller general at his side, what could go wrong? Right?

Again, and I feel like I always say this but… Leigh Bardugo does not romanticize war. War is war. She understands that and she writes it as such. I went into this book knowing that good and well from the previous 7. We’ve lost many characters along the way and I knew this book would be no exception. It wasn’t. I found myself shedding actual tears for these characters I’ve known for so long who ended up hurt or worse, killed. But I can appreciate this kind of writing because she’s not pulling punches. She’s giving us the reality of the situation and we sort of have to live with it. I think that’s beautiful. Sad, but beautiful.

Tell me it’s more than war and worry that makes you speak those words. Tell me what they would mean if you weren’t a king and I weren’t a soldier. But she didn’t want to hear any of that, not really. Sweet words and grand declarations were for other people, other lives.

Zoya has also grown to be one of my favorite characters. I really wanted to choke her out the first few times we meet her and deal with her but she’s grown so much. Her character, I think, is one of the biggest character builds in the entire series. I love her strength and her honesty. Then there’s also the bit of her vulnerability that we get to see. She’s come so far and she’s finally developed friendships and opened herself up a bit to love. We also finally get to learn about her roots in this book which was incredibly moving for me.

Ahhhh. The Queen of Mourning. When I saw that in the synopsis, it gave me chills. Nina truly has gone through so much pain and what a title that absolutely fits her just right. Nina is undercover in Fjerda trying to gain access to their military strategies and secrets so that she might send the information back to Nikolai so he can prepare. She’s living under the roof of the man she hates the most, Jarl Brum. Along with his wife and his daughter, Hanne who Nina has come to be close with. Nina is always so much fun to read. Her quick wit and sharp tongue make for some fun chapters. I have to say, hers was one of the storylines that ripped me apart in previous books. I felt like *I* was the Queen of Mourning reading about her life and all the tragedies that befall her.

I just can’t get enough of the Grishaverse. There are so many elements that come into play that make me so excited. I think I mentioned in one of my previous reviews how the possibilities are absolutely endless and they still are! Bardugo knows that and she makes these possibilities come to life. Giant war machines, altered Grisha, monsters, flying contraptions, and secret underwater weapons. It just never ends and I am here for it!

I thought I had this book figured out. And I guess I did for some of it but about 60% of the way through the book, I found I was wrong. So very, very wrong. I didn’t see any of it coming but now that it’s happened and it’s over, I can’t imagine it happening any other way. Bardugo does it again. She took a situation where there was seemingly only two ways out and added a third option that was soooo much better than either of the other possibilities. This really was a pleasure to read.

“I have a surplus of bad ideas,” said Nikolai. “I have to spend them somewhere.”

At this point I am definitely invested in these characters. There is very obviously going to be a third book in this series. The end left things wide open so I’m super excited to see how this plays out in the end. Though part of me is kind of like, “No! Leave things how they are. We don’t need to go out and risk our lives anymore for that stupid Darkling!” But I must admit, I’m excited for book three! I’d love to know when it’s coming out at the least! Ughh..

I know it took me a while to read this one and I’ll tell you why in just three words. Elder Scrolls Online. I’ve gotten back into it and I’m a bit obsessed. I bought Blackwood and I’ve been tearing through all the DLC’s content. It’s been so much fun but it hasn’t left me much reading time. I’ve recently found some balance though. I’ve got a lot of books in my queue that I’m dying to read so ESO is just going to have to be content with only having me for maybe 2 hours a day. Ideally, anyway.

If you haven’t already, check out the Shadow and Bone series on Netflix! Shadow and Bone was the first book in the first series Bardugo wrote in the Grisha universe and it is sooo good. Mind you, the show is soooo different from the books. There are some likenesses but ughh. Don’t get me started. The show still works though and it’s really good so go check it out!

Keep spreading kindness! ✌💛

Posted in Book Review

The Darkest King by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: March 12, 2020 – March 26, 2020
Date Published: February 25, 2020
Source: Owned (and signed) Hardback

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From Goodreads:

To become a king of the underworld at long last, William must resist an irresistible beauty—or a curse will ensure his end…

A merciless prince feared by all…

Cursed by a vengeful witch, William of the Dark will die if he ever falls in love—murdered by the woman who steals his heart. His lone shot at redemption is a book filled with indecipherable code. Break the code, break the curse. Now, centuries later, he’s condemned to a string of one-night stands…until he finds the only woman in the worlds able to set him free.

A rare creature of myth and power…

One of the last living unicorn shifters, Sunday “Sunny” Lane works from the shadows as a cryptanalyst, on the run from assassins and poachers. Then the darkly seductive William abducts her, holding her captive in Hell. The closer they get, the more she hungers for his touch…and the stronger a mystical desire to kill him becomes…

But which desire will prove stronger—lust or death? And who will give in first?

When I came to you guys with my review of The Darkest Warrior, I already told you all I wasn’t going to care for this book. Anddddd I didn’t. Look, I went into this with an open mind. I really did try. But William’s character is SO ridiculous. I know some people love him for it but I am the exact opposite.

Sunny, however, was brilliant. For the most part. Of course, like most of these paranormal romance books, she made terrible decisions. That’s to be expected. But I really enjoyed how she was kept true to her character. The species she is is known for their inability to lie and their ability to identify a lie from truth. I did enjoy how that was kept consistent throughout.

When it comes to the meat of the story… there really isn’t any. We go back and forth with this book that has cursed William and Sunny deciphering small parts of it at a time. This book isn’t so much about them deciphering the book and falling for each other. It’s more so a book about two people who enjoy torturing each other and find ways to annoy each other throughout the entire story.

There was a moment really close to the end when I started to gain a shred of hope. I started to feel like things were getting interesting. Everything was all chaos and uncertainty and I was getting really excited…

And that’s when the bomb went off.

The bomb that ended the book.

So here’s my thing… if you like a book about two people whose sexual tension is at an 11 throughout, who also enjoy finding ways to annoy each other, who also enjoy making the other jealous… then by all means, read this.

But if you’re looking for a good romance book with a decent plot and a good ending to bring it all together… well, this isn’t the one.

If you ask me, the book didn’t even matter according to the ending… or… the ending didn’t even matter according to the book. One of those. There was absolutely no point. And you CANNOT tell me that after living with this curse for 100s of years, ol big ego, self destructive Willy wouldn’t have tried to do exactly what they did at the end. It just doesn’t make sense. I’m trying not to spoil anything here but I’m getting fired up again about a book I read MONTHS ago. SOS

Anyway… 3 stars. In summary: I enjoyed some parts. The characters were alright. Not the greatest plot. Terrible ending.

I’ll be taking a break from paranormal romance for a bit until Gena’s next release comes out (Heartless). Now that one sounds like a book I can get behind. Enemies to lovers? Not sure about the heroine’s name being Cookie but we’ll see how it goes. Until then, I am going to try my best to finish my current read which is the latest from Leigh Bardugo (one of my all time favorite authors), Rule of Wolves. My kid just turned one so I’ve been planning parties, making food, setting up parties, and entertaining family who have come into town. And yes. I mean parties as a plural. We had two.

Anyway, until next time! 🙂

Posted in Book Review

The Darkest Warrior by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: February 25, 2021 – March 12, 2021
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Source: Owned paperback

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

He is ice…

Puck the Undefeated, host of the demon of Indifference, cannot experience emotion without punishment, so he allows himself to feel nothing. Until her. According to ancient prophecy, she is the key to avenging his past, saving his realm and ruling as king. All he must do? Steal her from the man she loves—and marry her.

She is fire…

Gillian Shaw has suffered many tragedies in her too-short life, but nothing could have prepared the fragile human for her transition into immortality. To survive, she must wed a horned monster who both intrigues and frightens her…and become the warrior queen she was born to be.

Together they burn.

As a rising sense of possession and obsession overtake Puck, so does insatiable lust. The more he learns about his clever, resourceful wife, the more he craves her. And the more time Gillian spends with her protective husband, the more she aches for him. But the prophecy also predicts an unhappily-ever-after. Can Puck defeat fate itself to keep the woman who brought his deadened heart back to life? Or will they succumb to destiny, losing each other…and everything they’ve been fighting for?

“To save us all, wed the girl who belongs to William of the Dark…she is the key…” “Bring your wife to our lands and lead the dark one here after. Only the male who will live or die for the girl has the power to dethrone Sin the Demented.”

LOOK. I’ve seen a lot of people throw a whole lot of shade at this book because of Puck being a “goatman”. They say “aww Gena, you put Gillian with a GOATMAN?!” Everyone wants to see Gillian end up with William after all these books and their storyline running together all this time but listen… I’m about to drop a super unpopular opinion on ya’ll. I DON’T EVEN LIKE WILLIAM. Seriously. He exudes that big ego energy where he thinks women are a lesser breed. He can never take Gillian seriously. Not ever. Baden’s book. This book. It doesn’t matter. He thinks she’s so helpless even after she becomes a warrior QUEEN who can absolutely kick his butt. He was never worthy of Gillian. Sorry not sorry.

So anyway… this book was pretty good if you ask me. I really enjoyed Gillian finding her man. The one who will fight for her to the death and trusts her enough to fight beside her. The one who treats her as an equal and makes sure she’s always comfortable and her needs are met.

I’ll admit. There were times in the beginning of the book where I was getting really aggravated with Puck as he was treating her like a prisoner and telling her to get over herself. I had to keep reminding myself that this was the harsh reality of housing the demon of indifference. It makes sense and I get it. It just made me sad a few times.

I’ve never really cared for Gillian when I’ve encountered her in Gena’s other books. But in this one… she is finally able to become the person she’s always strived to be. She’s strong. She’s independent. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. I just really enjoyed her personality shift. I also really enjoyed her honesty. Her character cares a lot about honesty and doesn’t like being lied to. I love that when Gena gives a character a trait like that, she follows through and makes sure they uphold the same standards for themselves.

“It was a truth universally acknowledged that a married girl in possession of a dagger would eventually stab her husband,” Gillian muttered, hurrying to keep up with Puck.

Puck. Let’s talk about Puck. I don’t know why but I’ve always liked Puck. Since I met him in Baden’s book even. I’ve just always had a thing for him. Luckily I’m not so shallow as some of these other readers who write him off because of his goat legs… ughh. Whatever. You guys suck. Regardless of the presence of Indifference, he tries his best to meet Gillian’s needs and keep her safe while also acknowledging that she can take care of herself. He’s just such a breath of fresh air. I loved reading his chapters more than I loved reading anyone else’s. He may just be one of my favorite Lords thus far. I think Gillian made off better than pretty much anyone else, honestly. I mean… dang.

Congratulations, lass. You’ve defeated me.”

Anyway, if you’re a Gena fan and you’ve been reading the Lords series for a while and you were iffy on finding out about Gillian and Puck, I recommend finding out. It was a very enjoyable read and from here… I guess I’m going to go ahead and dive into ol’ Willie’s book. Not that I want to… because I really don’t. I’m telling you… I’ve never liked William. Maybe his book will redeem him for me. (I’m highly doubting it.)

“Be warned now,” Puck said. “Let there be no misunderstandings between us. I won’t let you go. I will do whatever proves necessary to keep you, and I will choose you over anything. Life will no longer be about what is best for others or me. Life will be about what is best for Gillian and Puck. We are a team. A family. I will trust you, and you will trust me.”

Posted in Book Review

The Lives of Saints by Leigh Bardugo

Read Dates: February 24, 2021 – February 25, 2021
Date Published: October 6, 2020
Source: Owned Hardback

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(Excerpt from Goodreads:)
Dive into the epic world of international bestselling author Leigh Bardugo with this beautifully illustrated replica of The Lives of Saints, the Istorii Sankt’ya, featuring tales of saints drawn from the beloved novels and beyond. Out of the pages of the Shadow and Bone trilogy, from the hands of Alina Starkov to yours, the Istorii Sankt’ya is a magical keepsake from the Grishaverse.
These tales include miracles and martyrdoms from familiar saints like Sankta Lizabeta of the Roses and Sankt Ilya in Chains, to the strange and obscure stories of Sankta Ursula, Sankta Maradi, and the Starless Saint.
This beautiful collection includes stunning full-color illustrations of each story.

Now look, I’m already in love with Leigh Bardugo. I think I’ve mentioned before that I have a huge crush on her. Is it because of how well she writes her characters and how flawless her story telling is? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY.

So this is a collection of short stories about some of the saints in the Grishaverse and how they came to be saints. From a young sailor boy, to a princess, to a jeweler who takes on a demon living in a lake. I don’t think there was a single story that fell flat for me. They were all so magical and captivating.

I’m already such a sucker for short stories. I never really dabbled in short stories until I met an author named Rosamund Hodge. I’m pretty sure I mention them somewhere in one of my monthly wrap up posts. She has them all out there as free to read and they are AMAZING. I’ve not yet found anyone to contest her short story writing skills. Though, Bardugo is incredibly close with this gem.

If you’ve already read the Grishaverse and are as in love with it as I am, check this one out. The last two saints in the book are ones you will definitely recognize.

Which leads me to my favorite part about this book. The Starless Saint’s story. My goodness that one was just… so hard hitting. Of course it would be saved for last. Not only because of who he is but also because of how deep and truly haunting this story is. While the story is not his… it also is. I’ve had a soft spot for him throughout the entire Grishaverse journey and this story just deepened my feelings for him. Such amazing writing and such an amazing book.