Posted in Book Review

Ruthless by Gena Showalter

Read Dates: April 2, 2022 – April 8, 2022
Expected Publication Date: July 26, 2022 (hardback & paperback) August 9, 2022 (kindle/ebook)
Source: ARC via Naomi Lane/Gena Showalter for honest review

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From Goodreads:
Forbidden. Powerful. Ruthless. 

Micah the Unwilling, fae King of the Forgotten, can tame even the most violent of beasts. Forged on the battlefield, this iron-willed warrior considers his soldiers his family, and he will stop at nothing to reclaim their dispossessed land. Gearing for war with a sadistic enemy, he is disciplined and focused—until a feral beauty he encountered long ago wanders into his camp. 

Viori de Aoibheall wields a terrifying ability to sing monsters to life. Having spent her childhood in a forest, raising herself and her frightening creations—the only friends she’s ever known—she’s ill prepared for the scarred royal and his fearsome brutality. Not to mention the ferocity of their connection and the carnality of his touch. But the real problem? Her brother is Micah’s greatest foe. And though the sensual king makes her burn, she must stop him, whatever the cost.

Immortal Enemies

Book 1: Heartless
Book 2: Ruthless

Do no harm to the innocent. Protect what’s yours. Always do what’s right. Never be without a backup plan.”

This book is available to pre-order right now wherever you buy books!

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First of all, if you haven’t read Heartless, you should go do that.

I must say, Kaysar (from Heartless), wasn’t really my cup of tea. But Micah? Holy moly. Micah is definitely my cup of tea.

I have read many Gena Showalter books and I’ve met many couples I absolutely adore. This one is now in my top three. Easily.

It looks like it took me 7 days to read this book if you consult my Goodreads account but, nay. I read this in two nights. The night of April 2nd and the night of April 8th. It was INCREDIBLY hard for me to put it down that first night. I was immediately entranced by this story and its characters.

Viori and all her wiles and mischief had me from the start. I was intrigued by the life she lived. Running in the wilds being protected by monsters. The fierce protectiveness they had for her and she had for them. Not to mention when she lets out her RAGE. Her past haunts her and she wants nothing more than to make up for it. She’s just not sure if she can. What she’s done is unforgivable in her mind. I was drawn in by her loneliness but also her resilience. Any foe she befell… fell. All except one….
Micah has had a rough upbringing. He was left in a basket in the middle of the woods as a baby and found by a chimera, like himself, who ended up dying to protect Micah. A young Micah stumbled upon a young Viori sleeping in the forest, but he was unaware of her monster protectors. He carries the scars of the attacks those beasts doled out to protect their fiery, beloved Viori when Micah dared to get too close to her as she slept. Now he’s stumbled upon Viori again, years later. He’s the King of his village. Micah the Unwilling. Micah: the one whose chimera makes people want to literally rip their faces off. He has never been wanted. He’s never felt loved. But he’s continued to protect his people from the monsters that dared attack his village and he’s always kept their best interests at heart. His people come first. He’s relentless and willing (despite his nickname) to do whatever it takes to extinguish any threat to his people.

My heart literally just breaks for Micah. He deserves so much better than the life he was dealt. He deserves better than the reluctance he gets from his people. Ugh. I have such a soft spot for him. I think he’s just become my favorite male lead Gena has ever written. I loved him so much. He’s brutal but he’s kind. He’s relentless but he’s loyal. He is willing to protect any innocent. Vanquish any evil. He’s just… ughh.. I just love him, ok? Leave us be.

If you’ve read Heartless, you know the connection between Viori and Kaysar and the event that we all held our breath for that never came at the end of Heartless like we hoped it would. This book was even better than anything I could have ever hoped for. I laughed. I cried. I got unreasonably angry. Sometimes even unreasonably frustrated. I loved this book so much. I fell in love with these characters and I really fell in love with Micah. I’m going to have to rearrange my book boyfriend list.

Pride said, You mustn’t be the one to initiate contact. He must. But more and more she suspected pride was a buffoon. She wanted what she wanted – him – and she wanted it now.”

There were so many elements to this book that kept me on my toes. Viori’s abilities. Micah’s political issues with a particular neighboring kingdom. Side characters that I couldn’t bring myself to fully trust. I so enjoyed this book! (Did I mention that Micah and I are dating?)

Fight for what’s right, no matter the cost, or you’ll be forced to live with the wrong.”

If you love a good paranormal romance with monsters and wild abilities and heart-wrenching romance, this is it. I was feeling all the feels right there with the couple. My husband walked in while I was sitting here balling like a baby at one point in the book. (Don’t worry, he’s used to it.)

Ugh. Gena. Does it. Again.

Alright, Gena, who’s next? Jareth?? It’s Jareth, isn’t it? Can it please be Jareth?

BRB while I go figure out where exactly in my top 3 this couple has landed. I believe they might have topped the charts. 💛✌

Posted in Book Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Dates Read: March 27, 2022 – March 29, 2022
Date Published: May 5, 2016
Source: Owned paperback

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Feyre is a huntress.

She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price…

Imprisoned in an enchanted court in her enemy’s kingdom, Feyre is free to roam but forbidden to escape. Her captor’s body bears the scars of fighting, and his face is always masked – but his piercing stare draws her ever closer. As Feyre’s feeling for Tamlin begin to burn through every warning she’s been told about his kind, an ancient, wicked shadow grows.

Feyre must find a way to break a spell, or lose her heart forever.

Oh hello there. Welcome to my new obsession!

I went into this book not knowing if I was going to hate it or love it. Let me just say, I DON’T KNOW WHERE I’VE BEEN. This book came out in 2015 and the fact that I’m just now reading it is an absolute disgrace. I nearly killed myself staying up nights just to finish this book. I couldn’t put it down! The world-building and the characters and the m a g i c. My goodness, I can’t believe I slept on this series for so long. I’ve got book two on my nightstand awaiting its inevitable doom. Or… I guess… my inevitable doom. Because I’m about to stop sleeping for a few days, I’m sure.

Feyre
What an amazing heroine we have. She steps up to the plate to help keep her family fed when they fall into poverty. Poor girl didn’t deserve the life her mother bestowed upon her but I understand that her mother knew, of all her daughters, Feyre was the only one who would be able to keep her family alive. She’s strong, sharp-tongued, resilient… she’s just such a likable character.

Tamlin
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a crush on this fictional hunk of a man. He’s so quiet and unsure. He’s such a loose cannon. He’s the perfect fit for Feyre, honestly. I enjoyed reading scenes when the two of them finally became acquainted with each other. Tamlin just wants his lands to find peace. He wants to keep the people of his lands safe and fed and cared for.

I love you,” he whispered, and kissed my brow. “Thorns and all.”

Lucien
Who did I enjoy reading more than Feyre and Tamlin? Feyre and LUCIEN. I loved their back and forth banter. I just loved Lucien and his fierce loyalty to Tamlin and his cause. The way you could tell something had broken him earlier on in his life but you weren’t sure exactly what plagued his thoughts. Ok, maybe I had more of a crush on Lucien. I enjoyed every single page with Lucien’s name on it. I can’t wait to see more of him in book two. And three… and… four?? *nervous laughter*

I cannot leave here without mentioning Rhysand. He doesn’t really show up or remain constant in the book until nearly the end but… look… I have a thing for the bad boys and I can tell he’s going to be one. I can’t wait to see where his story goes in the coming books. I need more Rhys!

This world is so much bigger than I could have imagined. The last time I met a book with a world and a plot so grand was when I first read Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series which bled into her Six of Crows series… which bled into her King of Scars series. Those were some of my favorite books and it seems that this series I’ve finally unearthed from Sarah J. Maas is going to do the same that Leigh Bardugo’s books did for me. Every second I’m not reading more of Feyre and Tamlin and Lucien, I’m itchy with anticipation to get back into their story and find out what happens next.

These are those books that I can get absolutely lost in. I lose all sense of time and forget who I even am and what realm I’m sitting in. I love when a book can transport me into its world and make me feel like I’m a part of it and this series has done just that so far.

There are fae creatures galore. All of them are different than the last and more frightening than the last. Courts of High Fae loom on the borders, some more evil and atrocious than the others. A higher power oversees them all, dishing out an unsettling sense of dread that bad things lie ahead. This book had all the things I love in a fantasy book. Including romance. Sorry. I like those. Sue me.

I will say, the “new adult” label is the most accurate. This book had a couple explicit scenes. In case anyone was wondering.

GO. READ. THIS. BOOK.

And then grow obsessed like I have and immediately order the rest of the series so you never have to wait to read another page of the series ever again.

Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

War by Laura Thalassa

Read Dates: February 6, 2022 – February 23, 2022
Publication Date: July 11, 2019
Source: Owned paperback

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They came to earth – Pestilence, War, Famine, Death – four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

The day Jerusalem falls, Miriam Elmahdy knows her life is over. Houses are burning, the streets run red with blood, and a traitorous army is massacring every last resident. There is no surviving this, especially not once Miriam catches the eye of War himself. But when the massive and terrifying horseman corners Miriam, he calls her his wife, and instead of killing her, he takes her back to his camp.

Now Miriam faces a terrifying future, one where she watches her world burn town by town, and the one man responsible for it all is her seemingly indestructible “husband”. But there’s another side to him, one that’s gentle and loving and dead set on winning her over, and she might not be strong enough to resist.

However, if there’s one thing Miriam has learned, it’s that love and war cannot coexist. And so she must make the ultimate choice: surrender to War and watch humankind fall, or sacrifice everything and stop him.

We’re back, baby!

Another GEM of a story by Laura Thalassa.

(1) Bend the rules – but don’t break them.
(2) Stick to the truth.
(3) Avoid notice.
(4)Listen to your instincts.
(5) Be brave.
Five simple rules that, while not always being easy to follow, have kept me alive for the last seven years.”

I’m honestly so glad my best friend picked up Pestilence and tempted me to join her in reading these books. I am two books deep and I am NOT disappointed. Pestilence and War have BOTH scored a 5-star rating from me. I’m excited to read Famine and especially… DEATH. *shudders* I’m willing to bet he’s going to be my favorite.

I will say, I teetered between a 4.5 rating and a 5 because I didn’t like these characters as much as I liked Pestilence and Sara. I ultimately decided that I definitely liked all the characters in War and there was no reason to deduct just because I connected with one couple more than the other. I tell ya what I did connect with… that cover art. *drools*

So you would think this book would be no different from Pestilence but… this book had its own feel and its own plot and resolution. I admit I was trying to figure out how Thalassa could concoct four totally different stories that held up by themselves and weren’t full of recycled content from the previous book(s). So far, that has not happened. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I had no idea where she was going to take these two characters and the many supporting characters in the story.

You are the one He sent me.
“You are my wife.”

Miriam is a strong-willed young girl from Jerusalem who has lost her family and is all on her own. Until War crosses her path. War claims that Miriam is his fated and calls her his wife, holding her within his camp and having his subjects tend to her and guard her.

My favorite thing about Miriam was how real she was. She tried to get away from War at every turn… as most would do when a man is reanimating the dead and allowing them to kill thousands and thousands of innocents.

War gave me some serious Khal Drogo vibes and I was absolutely here for it. Did I mention the cover art? I mean, c’mon.

War is duty-bound. He is driven, much like his brother Pestilence, to carry out the task he was created for. But Miriam challenges him. She throws him curveball after curveball causing him to rethink his entire existence. What follows is heartbreaking and beautiful and soul-crushing and maddening and frustrating and so so touching. This book takes you through it all.

You are painfully human. Your bones want to break, your skin wants to bleed, your heart wants to stop. And for the first time ever, I am desperate for none of those things to happen.”

I’m not gonna lie, I cried. Which, I guess, these days isn’t saying much. Since having a kid I’m a big ol’ emotional wreck.

Another thing I feel I should mention, which I think I mentioned in my review of Pestilence, the author doesn’t romanticize these horsemen of the apocalypse. You are taken through gut-wrenching scenes where the reality of what they are on Earth to do… is done. I, for one, love that about these books. At first, it hurt me. It hurt me deeply. The old couple in Pestilence’s book… omg. But I was more prepared in War’s book and it hit just as hard regardless.

I do highly recommend these books! I can’t wait to start Famine. However, I have found myself newly obsessed with Sarah J. Maas and I must continue on to A Court of Mist and Fury before I totally lose my mind wondering what is going on with Tamlin and Feyre. And… Lucien. *Does a little eyebrow wag*

Anyway, until next time! (Which will be soon because I’m catching up on reviews as we speak!)

Posted in Book Review

Pestilence by Laura Thalassa

Read Dates: January 19, 2022 – January 22, 2022
Date Published: September 14, 2018
Source: ebook

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From Goodreads:

They came to earth–Pestilence, War, Famine, Death–four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

When Pestilence comes for Sara Burn’s town, one thing is certain: everyone she knows and loves is marked for death. Unless, of course, the angelic-looking horseman is stopped, which is exactly what Sara has in mind when she shoots the unholy beast off his steed.

Too bad no one told her Pestilence can’t be killed.

Now the horseman, very much alive and very pissed off, has taken her prisoner, and he’s eager to make her suffer. Only, the longer she’s with him, the more uncertain she is about his true feelings towards her … and hers towards him.

And now, well, Sara might still be able to save the world, but in order to do so, she’ll have to sacrifice her heart in the process.

Is this my first five-star of the year!? I think it is!

So this was actually a spur-of-the-moment read because my best friend started reading it and told me she was about 70 pages in and felt like it was going to be a 5/5 for her. So I took a pause on the book I was currently reading and dove into this one. I’m so glad I did.

Now, I get the mixed reviews. This isn’t your conventional romance novel. It doesn’t really fall into any one romance category for me. It was just… different. It was so different from the romance novels I’m used to. I read contemporary, paranormal, historical, YA… this book doesn’t fit into any of them. It was in a league all its own.

So, our main characters for pretty much the entirety of the book are Sara and Pestilence. Sara is a firefighter who volunteers to take the last shift before evacuation. She also happens to be the firefighter who pulls the black straw, meaning she is the one who will stay behind and carry out a plan she and her coworkers came up with to attempt to kill Pestilence and end the plague that he carries with him. Despite shooting him point-blank and setting him on fire, Pestilence lives and he takes Sara captive intending to make her suffer showing no mercy the way she showed him no mercy. And so begins the story.

“Oh, for the love of—” “God?” he finishes for me, raising his eyebrows. “Do you really think He is going to help you?”

Now here’s the thing… this book stood out from its brethren in substantial ways. First of all, there wasn’t that immediate sexual interest that you get from the very first encounter in most of the romance novels (especially paranormal ones) I read. It wasn’t immediately, as my best friend put it, putting fire into anyone’s loins. Some of the things Pestilence did to make Sara “suffer” were particularly cruel. It wasn’t just one cruel instance, it was many. It went on until it didn’t. It was BELIEVABLE. That’s the big one for me. The way this book was written was completely believable. Sara tried to kill him and didn’t waver when he asked her for mercy. Then Pestilence caused Sara to suffer and, in turn, did not show Sara mercy when she asked it of him. We don’t get to hear Pestilence’s side of things but from Sara’s perspective, she hates him. She hates the way he keeps her alive and causes her hurt and it all makes SENSE.

Now, I must say, I do have a strange fascination with Stockholm Syndrome type books. I mean, Beauty and the Beast is one of my all-time favorites… so… I guess maybe that’s the difference between me and the people that didn’t care for this book. But I thought it was incredibly refreshing that the beginning of their relationship wasn’t romanticized. It was anything but. As most of these situations should be, right? Even if you *are* kidnapped by a tall, handsome, RIPPED specimen of a man.

Pestilence frowns. “Anyone who tries to get close to us is doomed. You are safe, Sara.” But I’m not. Not from him, and not from my own heart.

Another thing I noticed people complaining about was the decisions the two made being questionable to their characters but, if you ask me, they really weren’t! They totally made sense to me. I don’t want to give too much away here but there were moments when, even though Pestilence was coming to care for Sara, he would do things to upset her. Let me just explain this to you guys in one sentence, “He IS Pestilence.” He was made to spread disease. It’s his purpose. He doesn’t know human customs and values. He only knows what he was made to do and what he’s been existing to do all his life.

He rises to his feet then and walks to the door. He pauses there. “For good or for ill,” he says over his shoulder, “I have been indelibly changed by you.”

Both of these characters were just really likable for me and I’m definitely, without a doubt, going to read through the next three books in the series. I just worry that they won’t live up to this one because this one, for me, was so so so good. I mean, I gave it five stars. That’s a really hard rating to get out of me. This book had me feeling frustrated when I couldn’t get any free time to read. I wanted nothing more than to sit and read the entirety of this book in one sitting. It made me feel all the things. I had literal pangs in my chest multiple times. It made me cry for heaven’s sake. The scenes we got where it showed normal everyday people in their homes getting the plague and how they handled it… just everything about this book was so incredibly wonderful and refreshing and startling and I really hope the next three are just as good. I am especially anxious to read Death’s book.

If you like paranormal romance novels, chances are you’ll like this one. As long as you’re not super attached to the immediate sexual tension. As long as you’re willing to witness the ugly truth of this kind of situation in order to get to the romantic parts. I loved Pestilence and he was so worth it. Onto the next!

Pestilence, his crown perched upon his brow. War, with his steel blade held high. Famine, a scythe and scales at hand. And Death, blighted Death, his dark wings folded at his back, a torch of bilious smoke tight in his grip. And so it was, and so it shall be, for the Age of Man is over, and the Age of the Horseman has begun. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Read Dates: December 25, 2021 – December 28, 2021
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Owned hardback

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From Goodreads:

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

“Will you marry me, Elisabeth? the little boy asked, and the little girl did not wonder at how he knew her name.
Oh, she replied, but I am too young to marry.
Then I will wait, the little boy said. I will wait as long as you remember.
And the little girl laughed as she danced with the Goblin King, the little boy who was always just a little older, a little out of reach.

Listen. I LOVE David Bowie. I also LOVE the movie Labyrinth. I also pick up every single book I can find that claims to be a retelling of such or even just one that is inspired by the film. So… when I heard about this one, I ran to my local bookstore. They didn’t have it. So like any rational person on the face of the Earth, I bought it and had it rush delivered to my house. Perfectly reasonable, I know.

So anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the story. I admit, it was a bit slow going in the beginning… but then… but THEN…

I also have to mention how incredibly giddy it made me when I read a sentence that was taken straight out of the movie Labyrinth but used in a different way that fit this adaptation. I marked them all with my cute little sticky notes and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t clap after placing each one down on a page.

“I’ve given you everything you’ve ever wanted. I’m tired of living up to your expectations.

So Liesl is a plain girl living in the shadow of her beautiful sister, Kathe and her talented brother, Josef. She loves music but she is forbidden from practicing it or taking classes to hone her natural talent for it. One day while running an errand at the market for their brother, Liesl and her sister Kathe run into some merchants that turn out to be goblins. The goblins isolate Kathe and spirit her away to the Goblin King. So begins Liesl’s journey to the Underground (**squeals internally**) where she must find a way to rescue her sister and beat the Goblin King.

I must admit, I didn’t care for Kathe at all and I really did dread having to read about her. But I suspect that was the intention. Kathe is beautiful and she knows it. She flirts with all the boys she meets. She enjoys nice things like shopping, accessories fashion, and fancy confections. She’s just a lot. For my personal taste at least. Maybe that’s your thing?

Josef was a bit the same for me. He’s very timid. Liesl is living in his shadow but he is also nothing without her. He’s very emotional and lacks any self-esteem. Liesl helps him navigate through those feelings. When she leaves, he literally has no idea what to do. It’s wild. He is the baby brother though. So I guess it makes sense.

I just didn’t really want to read about anyone except Liesl and the Goblin King. But, of course, most of the beginning chapters of this book were about Liesl’s family. Which is fine, I mean, we have to learn about the things that make our main character tick. But, while we’re on the subject, this was a big reason for my taking away of stars (cats). It’s not the book’s fault in any way, it’s mostly a fault of mine. I love music but I have no clue about composition. A lot of this book was about composing music. Those parts would lose me a little bit. Especially in the beginning where that was 90% of the main focus.

Liesl was enjoyable to read. She is strong and independent and level-headed even though she is very unsure of herself and lacks self-esteem. This was ok with me, though, because it fits the character. As I said before, she lives in the shadow of her siblings so this totally makes sense for her. Where her sister was told how beautiful she was by everyone she came across and her brother was told how talented he was in music, Liesl was never given any compliments where her talents and looks were concerned. She was always just the glue that held the family together. She took on keeping her family happy and her household running smoothly.

Also, I did enjoy the way the author wrote Liesl as being “plain” and “unattractive.” Even the Goblin King admits that she’s nothing to look at. The focus here is that there are other traits a person can have that make them wonderful. This is a constant throughout the story and I found that so refreshing. At no point did Liesl gussy herself up and make herself beautiful. She didn’t need to. All she needed was the one thing she was sure of about herself: her music. I was incredibly impressed by the consistency with this as well as how much it was pushed on the reader.

The Goblin King… *sigh*. He was so interesting. I kept wanting to know more about him. He captivated me. He was hot and cold and he came and went as he pleased. He was just… I don’t know… mysterious. There was also some indication that he was a broken man, regardless of his immortality and his stature. Which I guess makes sense for the next reasoning for deduction of stars. I got a bit dizzy with the back and forth of their relationship. Every time they came together it was good and then it was bad. I was left feeling incredibly confused about the two of them which left me not believing how they felt about each other by the end of the story. The relationship part just wasn’t there for me. It felt toxic. Maybe that was the intention. I don’t know. I do intend to read the second book to hopefully find some clarification.

“Oh, Elisabeth,” he said, “I would go anywhere with you.”

The thing about Liesl, though, is she doesn’t take any of the Goblin King’s crap. She goes toe to toe with him and never backs down. She’s fiercely protective of her family and she’s willing to do just about anything to ensure their safety… including outwitting the Goblin King. She wants to beat him, yes, but she also wants to know him. She’s always had a thing for the Goblin King, ever since she was a kid. She remembers playing games with the Goblin King when they were young and she has always fantasized about the two of them being together. So when she’s basically dropped in his lap, of course she feels that pull to learn more about him. I just… I don’t know. I didn’t believe it when all was said and done.

I feel the need to tell you guys, too, that if you’re not a fan of a less than ideal ending, then this isn’t the book for you. I’m not going to give away any spoilers here, but just know, there is little resolution at the end of this book. No fairy tale endings to be found in this one. It’s honestly kind of a sad ending. However, I’m hoping that the second book will clear this bit up for me so I refrained from letting the ending reflect in how I rated the book as a whole.

One last thing I think is worth mentioning: this is labeled as a young adult novel but, well, it’s not. It certainly didn’t feel like one. The language (not foul, just… poetic?), the sex… it just didn’t feel like a young adult novel at all. I just wanted to mention this, though, for those who might be wondering if this book is ok for their younger reader. Expect them to read quite a few sex scenes. None of which are overly detailed or super explicit but it’s very clear what they’re doing.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed the little snippets we got from the author calling back to David Bowie’s Labyrinth. I enjoyed the concept and the world-building. I SO enjoyed the magic. It was an, overall, enjoyable read!

✌💛

Posted in Book Review

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova

Read Dates: November 21,2021 – December 1, 2021
Publication Date: November 6, 2020
Source: Owned hardback

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“You are perhaps the one thing in Midscape I find terrifying.”

Maybe there’s something wrong with me… there’s probably something wrong with me.
So when I saw this book had a Hades and Persephone/Beauty and the Beast type feel, I was ALL IN.
Those are two of my absolute favorite stories. Again, because there’s probably something wrong with me. Stockholm syndrome you say? Yes, please.  

Anyway…

So this book is about a girl named Luella. She lives in a town where, for centuries, the elves have come to take a human queen. The human queen brings about the seasons and prevents the elves from being plunged into an eternal winter. In exchange for their human queen, the village receives longer life spans and protection from the wild fae and other dangerous creatures that lurk outside their borders. Unfortunately, the human queen has not presented herself and the elf king is growing impatient.

Luella is a healer within her village and she believes she is just an ordinary girl. But when the elf king comes to demand his human queen, she is revealed to have the same magical abilities every human queen before her had and is whisked away to Lafaire, the Elf King’s kingdom. She has to learn the ways of the elves and endure their harsh and unusual treatment of their human queen as well as learn how to use her new powers. Most human queens are discovered at a young age and are trained to use their magic, but Luella was not.

Let’s start with Luella. I actually really genuinely enjoyed Luella throughout the book. She didn’t exasperate me like so many main female characters in stories similar to this do. She trusted herself and questioned the things that her predecessors had not been willing to. She truly wants to do good for her people and she believes going with Eldas is the right thing to do for them. She does feel sad, however, that she is leaving her village as their only healer. The people in her village even donated money so that she could go off to school to become a better healer. She feels indebted to them, yes, but she also just feels this love for everyone in her community. It’s also hard on her as she is carted off as a plague has broken out in her village. She’s just an all-around great character with a good head on her shoulders who just genuinely cares. It’s refreshing.

Eldas. Now, of course, he’s tall and brooding and mysterious… so… Yea. He had my full attention. Eldas is just as duty motivated as Luella. He wants to do right by his people and he wants to keep his subjects happy and comfortable. He feels the need to continue on with this tradition of taking a human queen to bring about the end of winter. However, he also feels a bit trapped by this old tradition. Not to mention, he has started to maybe start to have feelings for Luella.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see the plot of this book and where it was heading. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. This was honestly such a good read with two incredible main characters and equally enjoyable secondary characters who just made my heart so happy. The entire thing was so so so good. The plot, the character building, the relationship building with not only our two main characters but with all the other characters as well. The story was just *chef’s kiss*.

I will say, there were times when I was desperate to have chapters showing Eldas’ point of view. But this didn’t take away from my liking of the book at all. I was still so entranced and so enchanted by the whole thing.

Now, I will say… there’s not a whole lot of “adventuring” in this book. I typically like my fantasy books to have a bit of adventure if only for the sake of seeing this world the author has envisioned for the characters. This book takes place, for the most part, in the Elf King’s castle. So, if you’re off-put by a book without adventure, this isn’t the one for you.

I honestly enjoyed the simplicity of this story though. It was just the story of two people bound by duty who lived for others but in the end, helped each other find themselves. It was incredibly enjoyable and I honestly got a lot of David Bowie’s “Labyrinth” vibes which is pretty much an instant two thumbs up from me!

✌💛

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 Hype, Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: Romancing the Gravestone by Gena Showalter and Jill Monroe (Artwork by Leni Kauffman)

I am so incredibly pumped and honored to be able to bring you guys the cover of Romancing the Gravestone which is set to release September 27th!

Gena Showalter is one of my all-time favorites and this time she is teaming up with Jill Monroe to bring us another sensuous story. These two authors are phenomenal and I can’t wait to see what their forces combined will bring us.

Let’s not waste any time here…

She suspects everyone of everything. Sometimes she gets it right.

Jane Ladling is the sole proprietor of her family’s landlocked cemetery, Garden of Memories. She’s responsible for the, er, guests, but there’s a slight problem. Well, besides her moody cat, Rolex, and her sixty-two-year-old best friend’s unrequited crush on the sheriff. An extra body now rests in Plot #39.

Enter Special Agent Conrad Ryan. He’s gruff, he’s gorgeous, and oh, yes, he kind of suspects her of murder. What’s an innocent—and very single, not that it matters—girl to do? Solve the crime herself. Even if she must turn the small town of Aurelian Hills, Georgia upside down. 

The only line she won’t cross? Falling for the first man to make her heart flutter. Nope, not happening. Not even a little.

Would you LOOK at this cover!?

This amazing artwork is done by the wonderful Leni Kauffman who is no stranger to creating artwork for romance novels. She has created her fair share of beautiful covers as well as her own independent illustrations. To see all of her incredible works, here are some links to her social media outlets and her personal website.
Instagram
Twitter
Personal Website

This book is available for preorder using the following links (more to come!):
Barnes & NobleAmazon
If you’re interested in learning more about the authors or seeing some of their previous works you can find them on
Instagram:
Gena ShowalterJill Monroe
Twitter:
Jill Monroe
Facebook:
Gena ShowalterJill Monroe
Or their respective websites:
Gena Showalter

Happy pre-ordering everyone!
✌💛

One more picture because I loooooooove this one!
Posted in Book Review

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Read Dates: February 9, 2021 – February 14, 2021
Date Published: May 25, 2020
Source: eBook

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(Synopsis from Goodreads:)
A Modern Hades and Persephone Retelling

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.
Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.
After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

Here’s a little known fact about me: I’m obsessed with Greek mythology. I love to read the fan made graphic stories on Webtoon or fictional stories that retell those of the Greek gods and goddesses. I have read most of the Lords of the Underworld books by Gena Showalter which has a good bit of the Greek mythology intertwined. I’ve even read a couple of the textbooks covering the beliefs of the Greeks and I can tell you who most of the gods and goddesses are and what they represent. Sometimes I can even tell you a little bit of their history. I have a lot to learn but I know quite a bit as well. It can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to reading fantasy fiction based on the Greek characters of myth. I always wonder what new twist the author is going to put on the classic characters. That’s the beauty of retelling Greek mythologies, the possibilities are endless.
Well, this was a good one. Not my favorite! But it was definitely a good one.

The author leaves Persephone’s typical personality untouched. She’s timid and unsure due to a sheltered life with her mother Demeter. She did, however, add a twist. Persephone is the goddess of Spring, but in this book, everything she touches withers. She’s not yet found her powers and doesn’t know if she ever will.

Persephone and Hades’ is one of my favorite stories. No matter where or how I read it, I so enjoy reading about them. Mostly because of Hades. I’m slightly obsessed with the King of the Underworld. Persephone is definitely an agreeable character with me too, but… it’s Hades, y’all.

In every story I read about them, Persephone drives me a little crazy the way she says yes to everything and doesn’t stand up for herself. But this is ok with me because of her past and upbringing. This book is no different when it comes to her character.

I also love a good Hades and Persephone story where the author throws other gods and goddesses into the story. I found myself getting so excited when a new character was mentioned and I would literally stop and tell my husband something like, “OMG. Hecate just showed up! She’s the goddess of witchcraft and magic!” I’ll be honest, I was fangirl squealing at a couple of the featured guests in their story.

Overall this was a really great book. I enjoyed every second. HOWEVER. The author wrote this same story but written from Hades perspective and I SO wish I had known that was an option before I read this one. I would have opted for his book instead. I still plan to read it at some point. If it’s different enough and I like it a good bit more than I did this one, I may do a review but probably not.

Let me add before I go, this is not a young adult book. There’s a bit of smut there in the last third of the book soooo… if that’s not your thing then… perhaps a different retelling by some other author. 😀

Cheers!

Posted in Book Review

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Read Dates: February 2, 2021 – February 5, 2021
Publication Date: December 8, 2009
Source: eBook

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(From Goodreads:)
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.

They made this into a motion picture. THEY MADE IT INTO A MOTION PICTURE.
I haven’t yet watched that movie and, to be honest, I probably won’t.
But let me set the stage here because I feel like my feelings about this book aren’t necessarily the books fault.
This book came out in 2009. Around that time I was heavy into the Twilight Saga. Laying on my bed, belly down, propped up on my elbows, legs bent at the knees swinging around behind me while I felt all the emotions and raged over the events that happened in that series. SO, had I have found this book, Fallen, back in 2009 or even 2010 when it first came out, I probably would have really liked it. Regardless of the many flaws and plot holes with which it choked me to death.

Ah geez… let’s just get into it.

So my main issue with this book is the love story. While it follows the same sort of pattern that books back in 2009 followed, I unfortunately, didn’t read it back then. So that sort of pattern isn’t my thing anymore. Unless you’re Twilight. Sorry, but that series is my guilty pleasure. Actually, no, not sorry.

The story follows Luce, who is navigating her new school and her new classmates. Of course, because it’s 2009, there’s a love triangle. But not the one you’re thinking. Not the love triangle where two guys like a girl and compete for her. Nope. It’s the kind where one boy likes the girl, one boy loathes the girl and the girl really likes the guy who is rude to her but tends to settle for the one who is overly nice and shows her the most attention. Oh, not to mention the girl constantly using the nice guy to make the rude one potentially jealous. (She can only hope.)
I found myself rolling my eyes A LOT. Luce is so insufferable. Cam, “nice” guy, gets on my last nerve pretty much throughout but then, so does Daniel (the guy Luce is pining over the entire time).

The most enjoyable parts in this book, for me, were the parts where we went a little more fantasy book than romance. The parts where we learned about fallen angels and demons and the “good angels”. The parts where Luce and her friend Penn dug into the school library and learned all these wild new things about students and teachers at the school. The parts where odd things would happen to Luce and she couldn’t make any sense of it, but we knew… weeeeee knew. The parts with fire and war and… ughh… just all the parts without the love story. The love story was a hot mess, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, the ending did nothing to redeem any part of the love story. It seemed all too easy. Not to mention, some of the things they “had to do” for things to be ok ended up being completely unnecessary. Not to mention, all these things that are just lying around this school waiting for Luce to discover them and they have NO BUSINESS being anywhere near a school, much less the same one she ends up at “by chance”. But no… it’s ok! Because this book is about FATE.

Now, if you’re an avid reader, you know that the second book in a series is usually the worst or hardest to read in the series. Knowing this, I had predetermined that I was not going to dabble in any more of this series. But curiosity took hold. I went and saw that the third book apparently starts to get really good. But I have to sit through the second first! Unfortunately, this book wasn’t good enough to warrant me sitting through a second terrible one to arrive at something manageable.

Again, I did enjoy some things and if you’re down for a love triangle that’s incredibly frustrating and makes no sense, if you’re down for a female lead who makes one questionable decision after the other, if you’re down for watching a girl get saved over and over again either from herself or some situation she’s stupidly put herself in, then yea. Go get you some of this book. You’ll love it. But it just wasn’t for me. 🙂