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Experiment in Terror Book Series Review

“You’re the light in all this madness. You’re my light. “

So this review is going to be a smidge different than my normal format because it’s based on a whole series. I’m going to do my overall thoughts on the whole series and then do snippets from each of the main books. I’m not going to touch on the novella’s because this review may then become its own novella, but maybe in a different post I will! Buckle up…this fangirl is about to take you on a lust filled ride.

Overall Thoughts

When I say that I am OBSESSED with this series, I mean that I eat, sleep, and breathe the pages. I haven’t read anything else since finishing it and I am (im)patiently waiting for December 11th to roll around because that’s when book 10 comes out! I’ve never been more excited for a series to continue than I am for this one…I need more Dex and Perry!

Anyway, I bought the kindle version of Darkhouse because it was recommended on FB group I’m in. I’ve read one other Karina Halle book, Smut, and loved it entirely too much, so I figured I would give it a try. Though Darkhouse, and the first few books of the series, doesn’t have any smut in it, there is A LOT of sexual tension and I am 100% here for it! I also love that it’s a paranormal series and that I was legit scared so many times while reading. If you’re a smut lover like I am, don’t fret…once the smut starts later in the series, it does not disappoint!

Perry is curvy, plus sized woman and I vibe with that because I too, am a curvy plus sized woman! I was very excited to read a book with a plus sized main character that I could relate to. Perry’s thoughts often mirrored thoughts I’ve had about myself and I appreciated being able to have a main character that I could see myself as. I also love Dex Foray and I may or may not have already married him…who’s to say? He’s 32 years old and full of sex appeal and sarcasm, all while being a douchecanoe. At first he creeped me out and I wasn’t convinced of him, but he grew on me and now I will love him forever.

As for the plot of the series, I am obsessed. The whole paranormal aspect had me hooked. I love the premise of the stories and how each one built off of the others. I also liked that book 7 was in Dex’s POV…I don’t often read books with male main characters/narrators, but his book was just…wow. As I said above, I was truly creeped out in many parts of the series and I cannot wait to see what the 10th book is going to bring!

I think my favorite part about this series is that Darkhouse was the first book that Karina ever wrote, back in 2011. I thoroughly enjoyed watching her writing progress as the series went on and can’t wait to dive into more of her stories. Oh, Karina may also be my favorite smut writing author. I decided that after reading her book Smut, but these books just solidified that for me. Seriously…the smut in these books is to die for…the waiting and sexual tension/frustration is completely worth it!

Now, before I completely ruin the series….let’s get into some thoughts of each of the books! I’ll do my best not to spoil anything!

Thoughts on the Books!

4/5 Stars

Darkhouse, being the first book in the series (and the first book that KH ever wrote) had some progress to make. It did a great job at building Perry and Dex, but I wasn’t hooked into the story until I was about 80% done the book. I was tempted to DNF it until a later date but I am SO glad that I didn’t.

5/5 Stars

As KH’s writing progressed, my intrigue in the characters and plot did as well. I enjoyed the paranormal topic of this book and liked the addition of Maximus. The sexual tension is to die for and it only gets worse in the latter books! This book had a great trope too…pretending to be married! It only added to the tension!

5/5 Stars

This book genuinely terrified me…sweet baby Jesus! D’Arcy Island was scary and I was not a fan (in the best of ways). Per usual, the sexual tension between Dex and Perry was reaching astronomical levels and I literally wanted to reach into the book and write my own scenes so I could calm down. I’m not sure how Perry controls herself around Dex because I know I couldn’t…especially sharing a tent with him…oof. Can we also all agree that we hate Jennifer?

5/5 Stars

This book had my emotions all over the place. I finally got what I was waiting for and then had my heart ripped to shreds and was left with a cliffhanger. This one took us to an insane asylum and it was scary in itself…not to mention Abby…yikes. My favorite line from this book that may have killed me is “You’re not the only one who knows how to lie, Dex”…if you know you know. Sigh. I did enjoy seeing more into the lives of Dex and Perry though, outside of their show! Rebecca may be my third favorite character…I want her to be my friend. My hate for Jennifer also hit an all time high in this book. She is the nastiest skank bitch I’ve ever met.

5/5 Stars

This book was so well done I have no words. This book deals with demonic possession and it’s written in such a compelling and convincing way. I truly felt like I was in the character’s head seeing/feeling what they were feeling while watching themselves be possessed. I couldn’t put this book down. There’s also so steamy scenes, but I won’t say with whom! It’s action packed, heart wrenching, and scary all in one book! This is one of my top favorites of the series solely for the possession writing.

5/5 Stars

This book is just *chef’s kiss*. My love for Dex Foray skyrocketed (I didn’t know it could go any further but it did). I vibed with drunk Perry, big time, and really enjoyed the llama named Twatwaffle. Even though this book takes place in the freezing mountains, you won’t need a jacket because there’s enough tension between Dex and Perry to keep you warm…just how I like it. The ending of this book also warmed my heart and I may or may not have died a little when it ended. I had to start book 7 ASAP!

5/5 Stars

This book is in Dex’s perspective and sweet lord it will make you need a cold shower. That man is just a sexual force to be bargained with. This may be my favorite book in the series. It had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, all while exploring New Orleans. I would love to see into Perry’s mind for some of the scenes in this book, but Dex’s filthy mind will do. I may have cried A LOT reading this book (again…IYKYK) and was close to throwing hands. Karina outdid herself with Dex Foray…ugh.

5/5 Stars

Ashes to Ashes is back in Perry’s POV and is spooky in all the best ways. The way KH continuously builds the characters and makes them feel like real people is amazing. Perry’s mind is a beautiful place and I love every part of it. I find myself feeling like I am Perry in these stories. I personally think this book had some of the scariest scenes in it (it involves creepy children so of course it’s terrifying), but it also has some really awesome other scenes…just saying! This book ended on a HUGE cliffhanger and I am so thankful that I didn’t have to wait for book 9 to come out (coming late to the party has its perks!).

5/5 Stars

Book nine flip-flops from Perry and Dex’s POVs and I am extremely glad that it did. There is so much going on in this book and I love that we got to see into both of their heads. Traveling, possession (again, so well done), haunting pasts, plot twists, and more, KH really threw the punches with this book. Dust to Dust was a phenomenal way to end the series…OH WAIT! It’s not done (HALLELUJAH!). I loved this book so much and really appreciated seeing how far Dex, Perry, and their stories came from the first book. The character and plot building was so well done.

So…those are my thoughts on the Experiment in Terror Series. I would LOVE to fangirl with you over Dex Foray…and the books themselves, so please find me on Instagram (@the_crafty_reader) or Twitter (@thecraftyreader) and chat with me!

Huge shoutout to Karina Halle for writing this phenomenal series. I already have some tattoo ideas in my head that I want to get. I loved this series so much I need it permanently on my being. Also if you haven’t read up on KH, her story is ADORABLE. She found her own Dex Foray when shooting book trailers for the series and they fell in love and got married…HOW CUTE IS THAT!!?

Came Back Haunted comes out December 11th! Dex and Perry’s story continues and I am living for it! Ghosted (EIT 9.5) is a preview novella for the new book, so read that if you’ve read everything else…Book 10 is going to be amazing, I can already tell! Ada, Perry’s sister, also has her own series and it’s just as wonderful! Book one is called Veiled and book 2 will be out soon! Look it up and give it a read, it doesn’t disappoint!

Thanks for hanging in there through my review! I know it wasn’t 100% fabulous (I’m not a writer, after all), but it’s real and it’s me! See you soon!

Personal

Riding the Struggle Bus – Life Update!

Hi all! I know I’ve been slacking with reviews…but that’s because I’ve been slacking with reading! I thought that once the wedding was done that I’d be ready to read again, but I’ve found that I’m in a new slump. October was a great reading month, even with the wedding! We’re now 16 days into November and I’ve read one book and am working on a second. I just don’t have time or energy. Being a teacher in a virtual setting is exhausting. Once work is done for the day (3PM) I’ve been taking 2 hour naps and then I don’t want to do anything once I wake up. I try to read, but my eyes are just so tired from staring at a computer all day. I know, I know, I’m throwing myself a pity party….we’re allowed to do that once in a while!

While I may not be reading a lot, I have taken up a new crafting hobby. I’m hoping to add my new things to my Etsy shop in the new year! I’ve been working with resin and molds and designing some pretty cool things! My craft room (which is also my library) looks like a bomb went off in it! I’ve spent entirely too much money on resin supplies, but I needed some other outlet to focus on since reading isn’t working. I’m going to make a butt ton (that’s an accurate measurement right?) of Christmas gifts to nonchalantly use people as guinea pigs for my projects! Below are just a small fraction of the things I can make! I really love working with resin because the customization options are endless!

Some cute self-defense keychains!

Round and square coasters!

Trinket Trays

Some Misc things! I am in love with the cat ear ring (next the the green tree).

As I said, these are just a few things I can make! I’m waiting on a lot of molds to come in the mail, but will be making guitar pics, pendants, animals, ornaments, and whatever else I can get my hands on!

What have you been doing with your time? I’m hoping that once my Grad school semester is over I’ll be a little less stressed out. My goal is to read at least two more books by the end of the month…I think I can do it (especially with Thanksgiving break coming!).

Thanks for hanging in there with me as I ride the struggle bus to the end of 2020! Hopefully I’ll be more active soon!

xoxo Allison xoxo

Wrap-Ups

October Reading Wrap-Up

October was a much better reading month than September was (I read three books in September and didn’t even do a wrap-up). I was in a reading slump because life hit me full force for a bit, but October did me well. I was happy to have been able to read any books, so to have read what I did made me really grateful! So, without any more wasted time, let’s see what I read this month!

Stats:

  • Number of Books: 12
  • Genres: Fantasy, Romance/Contemporary/Erotica, Mystery/Thriller/Romance
  • Pages Read: 2,851
  • Authors Read: 5

What Did She Read?

All the books AND authors were new to me this month, so I was excited to dive into that. None of these books were on my TBR (oops) and all were read in the Kindle format. I tried picking up physical books to read and couldn’t do it for some reason. Below you will find the 12 books I read, their ratings, and a few thoughts (since I didn’t do many book review this month). Let’s get to it!

4/5 Stars

This book was an eARC that I read and I fell in love with it instantly. The characters and plot were intriguing and it was very well written. I ended up getting a signed copy in my October Bookish Box, which I was SO happy for! I can’t wait to read more by this author!

5/5 Stars for all 5 books. These books are super quick reads (literally…each is a little over 100 pages) and had my attention from the first page. They’re gruesome, dark, and disturbing, while adding a twisted love in the mix. I couldn’t put these down!
Each of these books earned 4/5 stars. I really enjoyed Callie and Des as well as their plots. Some of the fantasy themed aspects were familiar from other stories, but I was so invested I didn’t really mind. Book one and three were my favorites. I enjoyed the second one, but that one reminded me a lot of SJM books (some parts too similar…but I still liked the book). The steam in these books is also *chef’s kiss*.
4/5 Stars This is a novella to the Rhapsodic series that falls between books one and two. The beginning dragged, but I enjoyed the different POV and the second half enough to bump it to 4 stars.
5/5 Stars I don’t usually read straight erotica, but this was something else. Usually sex scenes make me giggle but I was so invested in the “plot” (ha!) that I didn’t have time to giggle.
4/5 Stars. This book was amazing. Some of the writing was iffy, but the characters, plot, and romance was amazing. I read the sequel in one sitting. Highly recommend if you like sexy, blue-eyed, mob men..I didn’t know I did until I met Tristan Caine!

It was a great month! All my books were four or five stars and I enjoyed each of them for different reasons. I flew threw some series, read some stand-alones, and even dipped into my first full erotica book (I regret nothing). To say it was a successful October is an understatement!

I like to end by sharing some other accomplishments from the month, so here it goes!

  • I got married! We had to revise our plans because of covid, but it happened and it was beautiful!
  • I researched resin and am thinking about expanding my Etsy shop.
  • I started Christmas shopping (oops).
  • I’m surviving…that’s what’s most important in these crazy times!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I hope you’re well wherever you are in the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these books! Find me on instagram: @the_crafty_reader or Twitter @thecraftyreader to chat! Hopefully I’ll be more active in November!

Book Reviews

MindF*ck Series Rating

Each of these books is 5/5 for me!

Synopsis

Lana is seeking revenge for something terrible and revolting that she went through when she was a teenager. Logan is an FBI agent working on the case of a serial killer that mutilates alpha males. One day, Lana and Logan cross paths in a coffee shop. One thing leads to another and Lana and Logan end up romantically involved with one another. However, their relationship is hard because Logan’s job is demanding of his time, and Lana’s secret side gig, is also demanding of her time. However, they make what they have work.

The series builds upon their relationship as well as the case that Logan is working on and Lana’s fixation on her past. Things are tricky with Logan being FBI and Lana being, well, a herself. As the books go on, we see different cases that Logan is involved with and see why Lana is the way she is. Her past is haunting and brutal, but will Logan think the same when (or if) he finds out what happened 10 years ago in a small, creepy town?

My Thoughts (mild spoilers)

First, I wish there was more to this series. I could read about Logan and Lana forever. I also wish that the books were longer…they’re more novella length and I really wanted more. But, I’m more than pleased with what S.T. Abby blessed us with!

I’ll start with the characters. Lana is the definition of badass. Her past is awful and something that no one should ever have to go through, but she did. She survived (somehow) and is now seeking the ultimate revenge, with the help of her best friend Jake. Lana is sexy, smart, cunning, and able to defend herself better than any other human character I’ve ever read a book about. Her personality it relatable, she is human after all, and she has dreams and aspirations..albeit a bit different than my own, but she’s a goal setter!

Logan…woof. I was SO happy when Craig was not the main love interest in this series. I didn’t enjoy his character the first time we met him hitting on Lana, and wouldn’t have been able to make it through the series if he was who she fell for. Logan is passionate about his job and about his friends. He’s smart, patient, and, like any good male character that I enjoy; sexy. His job is interesting but demanding, so kudos to Lana for handling that. I don’t know if I could be with someone that could get called into work literally at any second, and then risks their lives and puts their loved ones at risk on top of it!

Hadley and Jake. These secondary, but awesome, characters are fabulous. I didn’t know what to think of Hadley at first, but I ended up really enjoying her snarky attitude. She’s protective and loyal, and I really liked the friendship she and Lana built. Jake is just a mastermind. I wish I had someone as awesome and technologically savvy as Jake. Hadley may be loyal but Jake is loyalty on steroids. I really did enjoy his back story and the frienship/pseudo-siblingship he had with Lana.

The creepy people from Lana’s past. Hate them all. They deserved everything they got. End of story.

The characters were great, but the fascinating plot is what made me run through these books. A serial killer dating the FBI agent that’s working her case. Who knew I would enjoy this so much? I really liked reading how Lana did everything that she did (is that concerning or…) and how Jake played a part as her partners. I also liked seeing how the author wrote from an FBI point of view; I bet that took a lot of research…as did writing the perfect serial killer.

S.T. Abby did a phenomenal job of moving the plot along. I didn’t feel like it dragged at any given points and, even though I wanted more story, I didn’t feel like I was missing any information. The books being short also helped to move the story along!

The only part that irritated me is how long it took Logan to realize what was right under his nose. Lana gave him enough information about her past, and then he got information on a case that kind of lined up with Lana’s story, but he didn’t connect the pieces. I don’t quickly connect the dots in stories, but when I beat an secret service agent, he was clearly blinded by love! On a lesser of two evils note, there were some editing errors in the books…but seeing as I’m nowhere near perfect in my writing (see this blog post for example) I can brush them aside. I always feel powerful when I find an error in a published book…just me or..?

Overall, I highly recommend this series. Lana’s whole back story is an extreme trigger, so make sure you know that going in (rape, torture, abuse) and then the details of her killing men is very graphic and triggering as well. For a mystery AND romance lover, this book was the perfect combination. It didn’t have a ton of sexy scenes, but I was more interested in the mystery part of the story to be honest (gasp)! I read all five books in three days, which for someone that’s been in a reading slump, I’d say that’s awesome! So, try out the series if you like mystery stories – I wish I had known about this series sooner!

Book Reviews

Kingdom of the Wicked Book Review

4/5 Candles (stars)

This book hasn’t been published yet and I am SO thankful to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read an ARC for an honest review! So, this review is going to look a little different than normal!

Synopsis

Kingdom of the Wicked follows Emilia, a young witch, on her journey to avenge her twin sister’s death. Her sister, Vittoria, never came home for dinner at her family’s restaurant one night, and Emilia stumbled across her dead body. Emilia doesn’t know who killed her sister, or why they did it, but her new purpose is to find out. She will do ANYTHING to set her sister to rest and get back at her murderer…so much so that Emilia ends up summoning Wrath, one of the seven Wicked princes of Hell.

For her entire life, Emilia had been warned to NEVER trust anyone from Hell, but Emilia thought the warnings were just an overreaction to keep her safe. On her journey, she partners with Wrath and ends up meeting his brothers, and quickly realizes they can’t be trusted and that they are very, very dangerous. Wrath has told Emilia that he is going to help her because they both want to understand and figure out who is murdering young witches. But, as she was warned for years, the Wicked aren’t always what they appear to be on the surface.

Thoughts

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author, and I loved it! I’ve been wanting to read her book Stalking Jack the Ripper, so I was very happy to read a book by her!

First, I really loved that a fantasy took place in a real location…for this book it was Sicily. KM did a great job describing the setting, from the food people sold to the vendors and booths on the street. I’ve never been to Sicily, but know people who have, and this sounds like what they experienced! I enjoyed that I didn’t have to wrap my head around a made-up world like we have to in most fantasy novels! Don’t get me wrong though! I do enjoy made-up worlds!

Emilia had moments when I wanted to strangle her, but she was a good character. I don’t think I could have read a book with a main character named Vittoria for almost 400 pages…so Emilia will do! Nonna was a favorite for me..I love a badass grandmother..especially when magic is involved! Then there’s Wrath…ugh I love him. I’m always drawn to the dark, brooding, villains. Speaking of Wrath, huge kudos to KM for the personification of the 7 deadly sins. I was so intrigued by the concept and loved how they were each portrayed. We didn’t get to meet all of them in this book, but I hope in future books that they’ll be around!

Overall, I appreciated the concept of this book. I was engaged and really into the plot and characters. I liked the bit of mystery feel that it had, as we tried to solve Vittoria’s murder. KM weaved magic and other fantasy beings into the story really well, too. The whole idea of Hell and the Wicked princes reminded me a bit of Supernatural (which I love) and really kept my interest. I may or may not have envisioned demon Dean Winchester as Wrath a few times. The main reason this didn’t get four stars for me is because it was young adult. We get some ‘innocent’ moments (I won’t spoil with who) between some characters, but I was hoping for more detailed scene (I like what I like). For a young adult book though, I still think there could have been a few more spicy moments…nothing crazy though. But, overall, I really enjoyed myself. As soon as I read the last sentence, the first thing I thought was “I hope there’s a book 2”!

So, if you like YA Fantasy novels, catch Kingdom of the Wicked, out October 27th!

Tags

The Anonymous Bookaholics Tag

Hello! I’ve been a bit MIA lately, and haven’t been reading much because work has started back full swing! That being said, I do have some time to do a fun book tag (we all know I love a good tag)! Thank you to Books are 42 for tagging me – let’s get to it!

  1. What do you like about buying new books?

Everything! I love coming home and finding a spot for them on my shelf. I love admiring the covers and the art word. The thrill of having new books to read is fantastic (yes, the thrill). It’s even more exciting when I buy them from used book stores or thrift shops/flea markets!

2. How often do you buy new books?

Too often…I probably buy a new book (or more) once a week. I went months without giving books a thought, but now they’re all I want to buy; well books and book related merch. I’ve tried to put myself on a book buying ban, but that ended in 30 new books…so I won’t be doing that again!

3. Bookstore or online book shopping: which do you prefer?

I like going to bookstores and physically holding the books, browsing the aisles, and whatnot. Then, when I’m done, if there’s something I didn’t find, I’ll do online shopping. I can typically find books cheaper online that in person, even at used book stores. I just feel like online book shopping isn’t the same, but I do get very excited when the books come in the mail!

4.  Do you have a favourite bookshop?

We have one really good used book store near us, and it’s called Ukazoo! I’ve been going to them for years. They have great prices, a big selection, and I can easily spend hours in there searching for books. I would love to go around and find more used book stores! I have a road trip to PA planned, there’s about five stores within minutes of each other…I just need the time to get to them!

5. Do you pre-order books?

I’ve always loved reading, but quarantine has really made me have a new appreciation (and obsession) with reading. This is the first time I’ve ever pre-ordered books. I have a VE Schwabb book pre-ordered and I pre-ordered ACOSF. I’m also into special edition things now and have a handful of them pre-ordered too…oops!

6. Do you have a monthly buying limit?

I should, but I don’t. I’d never stick to it, so what’s the point?

7. How big is your wishlist?

Fairly large. I have a lot of books that I want to read and a lot that I want to buy. I think I’d be poor if I bought them all.

8. Which three books from your wishlist do you wish to own right now?

Good Girl, Bad Blood; Madhouse, and the Dusty books (I’ve read them but need the physical copies).

If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged! I’d love to see everyone’s answers!

Book Reviews

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire Book Review

“Some say patience is a virtue,” his voice echoed back to me. “Some deserve a punch in the face,” I muttered”.

JLA
Rating: 5/5 blood trees (stars)

Synopsis:

I’m just going to use the book’s synopsis because I will butcher it very badly and ramble (as you’ll see in the my thoughts section)…

A Betrayal… Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

My Thoughts *Contains mild spoilers*

To quote Casteer…I am unworthy. This book just took my breath away. The first book (From Blood and Ash) ended on such a cliffhanger, so I was very excited to pick this one up. I think this may be in my top 3 reads of 2020 (or ever). I’m going to attempt to organize my thoughts in a coherent manner, but I’m not making any promises.

First of all, I am so in love with Poppy and Casteel. The way they communicate with one another is so entertaining and I can’t get enough of it. I also really love the strangers-friends-lovers-enemies-frenemies thing they have going on. The character building from Poppy and Hawke is phenomenal. We were able to see the many masks that Prince Casteel wears and each of them are so different; some are sexy (okay he’s just sexy), enticing, heartbreaking…you name it and he wears a mask for it! Then there’s feisty, funny Kiernan. I love him so much and would not object to a Joining scene in upcoming books…just saying. His relationship with Cas and how he treats Poppy is wonderful, and you can tell he is genuine and truly cares. He’s not necessarily a main character, but he plays such an important part in their friendship that he’s easily a favorite. I did miss Tawny a lot in this book. I hope that we see her in book three (whenever that comes out…soon I hope). Alastir rubs me the wrong way. I am not a fan of him…something just isn’t right and I don’t trust him at all. The wolven are also a favorite of mine. I think they’re fascinating, as is their history, and I really like the scenes where they interact with Poppy and Cas.

There is A LOT of history in this book, learning about the past of the different bloodlines and creatures in this world. However, JLA executed the information in such a way, that I didn’t feel overwhelmed with details and knowledge. It didn’t feel like the beginning of Crescent City, for example, with a huge information dump (I still love CC, don’t get me wrong). Did I remember everything, of course not, but JLA had refreshers thrown in there throughout the story that reminded Poppy and the readers! I was engrossed in the history of Atlantia, the Ascended, the Craven, Wolven, and all the other unique things this world brings.

The plot of this book was so engaging. I couldn’t put the book down (unless I had to tend to some stupid responsibilities or something) and wanted to read and read and read! The conflict between Poppy and Casteel was something that really built the foundation of the book, and I don’t just mean the sexual tension between them. The internal conflict in Poppy about loving Casteel even though he lied (a lot) was done so well, that I started feeling those things. This book elicited a lot of emotions from me because of how Poppy told the story. I was angry with her, sad when she was, intrigued at certain times, and so on. So, kudos for the great writing JLA!

So in my review of FBAA, I talked about the one sex scene that really drew my attention. Well, there are A LOT more in this book and they are fantastic. I could read a whole book just about Poppy and Casteel getting it on, as Poppy threatens to stab Cas and he calls her Princess. Again, the complicated “pretend” relationship they have with one another really plays into the chemistry they have together. That with how JLA writes…*chef kiss*. Also, can we PLEASE have them re-enact some scenes from Miss Willa’s Diary in the next book?

I had a lot of questions entering this book and I was expecting some closure with them…instead I was left with A LOT more questions. I thought by the end of this book, we’d be in contact with Casteel’s brother and have some answers there…nope! Now I need to know where he and Ian are, who Poppy keeps hearing in her nightmares, why the wolven get shocked when they first touch her, what the hell was going on at the end, and so many more. Now I don’t know if book 3 will answer any because book 2 ended on another damn cliffhanger! I’m noticing a theme here JLA! The book 1 cliffhanger was okay because I read it three days before book two came out. But, now I read book two and have no clue when book three is going to come out! I NEED ANSWERS!!!!!!!!!

I’m rambling now…so, overall, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I am so glad that I read the first one and I cannot wait for more. I hope we see more of the sassy and sexy relationship between Poppy and Casteel, as well as more from Kiernan and the wolven! I will definitely be rereading these books. Look out ACOTAR series…you have a rival! (jk I still love you Rhysand, but Hawke just hits different…guess I’ll have two book boyfriends).

I’ll just be twiddling my thumbs until someone finds out when a third book will be coming out!

Thanks for hanging in there with me. If you haven’t read this series yet, please do so! If you love fantasy, romance, and some well written smut, this is the series for you!

Wrap-Ups

August Reading Wrap-Up!

August was a busy month, and not just for reading! At the beginning of August, we made the tough decision to rearrange our wedding plans. We’re doing a very small ceremony on the original date in October, and then doing a vow renewal and our reception with all of our guests in April (hopefully). So the beginning of the month came in with many tears and a lot of stress. Then, I had my bachelorette party and forgot about the negative things (we made sure to be covid safe!). We also did an adult summer camp at the zoo (outdoors and masked) and now we’re starting back to school. So, it had been a CRAZY month. However, I managed to squeeze in time to read 14 books, which shocked me! I did slack on Booktube videos and blogs on here, but I’m working on ‘kind of’ catching up. September is going to be an even busier month, with school starting, grad class, bridal shower, and starting our 1 month count down until I Do! I’m interested to see how many books I’ll get to in September!

Statistics:

  • Number of Books: 14
  • Number of Pages: 4,397
  • Ratings: 1 Star: 0, 2Stars: 2 books, 3 Stars: 4 books, 4 stars: 6 books, 5 stars: 2 books

Books of August!

Thank you to IG user @LibraryGoblin for this awesome template!

So all of these books are new to me! This is my first month, since I read it in April, that I didn’t reread ACOMAF – shocking, I know! I am going to sort my wrap-up by review this month, just to try something new! I’ll give a short blurb and do my best not to bore you! We didn’t have any 1 star reads, so we will start with 2!

2 Star Reads

I have a lot of thoughts on this book. I’m annoyed at the romanticizing of mentally abusive relationships. So much wrong with this one.
This one was an eARC from NetGalley (thank you!). I would have liked to see more diversity in this book seeing as we live in 2020 and sex isn’t just men and women. It’s an okay book. Not something I’d want my future children using to educate themselves.

3 Star Reads!

This was an eARC. It was a quick read and gave a family member’s perspective on mental illness. Very short story, would have liked to see more detail.

This was an eARC. It was a fun read but I anticipated more sexting since it is in the title. However, the sexting was VERY uncomfortable and awkward.

I was SO excited to read this and I was pretty disappointed by it. There was a lot of sexism and not a lot of vampire.
This is a beautifully illustrated book! I love the tea dragons! I love the friendship and love developed in this book. This will live on my shelf for a long time.

4 Star Books

This book started slow for me but I am SO glad that I continued with it! What a fantastic story, highly recommend this one!
JLA is phenomenal! This was a fun strangers to lovers romance and I can’t wait to read more JLA books!
This book also started slow for me, but it was so beautifully written. Some parts were over-detailed, but the journey in the book ends with self love.
Forever loving CoHo. This book didn’t always seem like the typical CoHo book, but I loved the plot and the protagonist, Beyah. Also…the cover is AMAZING.
This book took a different route than I anticipated, but I loved the suspense. I hope Riley Sager writes more books like this soon!
This was a cute (and deep) middle grade read. I love how jellyfish are portrayed and researched throughout the book, but they have such a deeper meaning.

5 Star Books!

This is a must read. This is absolutely eye opening and sadly, relatable.
If you like A Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, you will love this book! I was on my toes for this whole book and couldn’t wait uncover the mystery!

What a Great Month!

I don’t know how I managed to fit 14 books in with my jam-packed month, but I did! I have no plans for September (passed the first book I’m going to read) so I’m looking forward to what I’ll pick up! I put myself on a book buying ban but somehow, over 30 new books have made their way into my possession this month…wonder how that happened! I also got my first Owl Crate box this month and I LOVED it! Look for an unboxing video in the middle of September. Am I the only one that is obsessed with books that have sprayed edges or…?

Anyway…I wish everyone the best September and hope that you enjoy the books you read, no matter how many there are!

Thanks for tuning in!

Book Reviews

From Blood and Ash Book Review

“Fear and bravery are often one and the same. It either makes you a warrior or a coward. The only difference is the person it resides inside.”

Jennifer Armentrout
4/5 Daggers (stars)

Synopsis

Poppy has grown up belonging to everyone but herself. She was raised as the Maiden, which translates to having absolutely no freedom. She can’t speak to anyone, can’t be looked upon, can’t engage in activities, can’t do anything. Poppy is covered by a veil and sits quietly while she does as she’s told. As Poppy waits for her Ascension, she would much rather be defending people and daggering the Craven – a terrifying type of monster that destroys and kills…including having killed Poppy’s parents long ago. Then, one day, she gets a new guard and everything becomes beautifully confusing. Poppy wants less to do with her Ascension and more to do with living the life that was stolen from her. As Poppy struggles with following her heart, an old and fallen kingdom is beginning to rise and rebel. Lives are in danger, including Poppy’s. She can either fight or she can remain the perfect, pure maiden…what will she choose?

My Thoughts

This was the first Jennifer Armentrout book that I picked up. I ended up using this book as my ‘reading before bed’ book, so it took me longer to read than normal. I first saw this book on TikTok when someone said that it was more steamy than ACOMAF. I was intrigued but didn’t want to add another book to my collection just yet. Then, someone I follow on twitter was raving about this book so I decided to download the kindle version. Since I hadn’t read this author before, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. The first chunk of the book dragged for me. I enjoyed what I was reading, but it felt slow for me. Although…I then simultaneously decided to read the book Forever With You, by JLA as well! I loved that book so I continued trucking through this one, and I’m glad I did!

Let’s start with Poppy…I LOVE her!!!!!! What a strong character. This poor girl is put through HELL, but she entertains herself and breaks some rules, too! I love a good badass, and Poppy is definitely that! Reading about how she was forced to live her life was so unsettling and upsetting, especially her lessons with the Lord and Duke. I don’t know how she didn’t lose her mind with all the rules she had to follow…I wouldn’t have lasted 18 years. Then, there’s Viktor whom I also love. He helped Poppy see a little bit of life by training her to use a dagger and defend herself. He saw behind her veil and knew Poppy as a daughter. I also enjoyed Tawny’s character and how she was so much more than Poppy’s handmaid. They cared for each other and Tawny saw Poppy as a person and a friend, not just the Maiden.

Then, there’s Hawke. We meet Hawke early on in the book, then he disappears, and then he returns. I loved him the moment I met him. Then I fell even more in love with him…then I hated his guts…then I loved him…then I hated him…it’s a love/hate roller coaster. I picture him distinctly in my mind but I can’t put into writing how I imagine him. The way he and Poppy talk to one another is my favorite and I love them so much (I’m saying that a lot). But then, JLA throws a wrench in things and my heart is very, very confused. However, I finished this book and NEEDED the second book ASAP. Luckily, I chose a great time to finish this book because the new one came out today (Sept. 1).

Now, I’m going to move onto the writing. I like JLA’s writing style. But, like I said before, this book took a while for me to get into. I don’t think it was the writing that bored me, but the plot and learning the back story and piecing together what was holding me back. However, I soon wrapped my mind around the story and ended up loving it in the end. Once it got going, it sure took off! Some of the semantics of the setting and Lords/Ladies/Duke/Duchesses were confusing and I didn’t love them. Although, I do see how they add to Poppy’s backstory and the plot of the book. As for Fantasy, this book has some great creatures (the craven, Atlantians, Vampyrs, Wolven, and giant rat monster things). Honestly, I would have loved to see more of the Craven and the blood forest. We see more of the wolven in the last chunk of the book, but I liked them and am excited to (hopefully) see more in book 2.

Holy plot twist. I 100% did not see that coming until it was right under my nose. Maybe I was blinded by love, but that was an SJM twist if I ever did see one! Again, playing with my emotions in books is something I rank highly…it means I’m invested.

I do have to say that this book may house my favorite ever sex scene that I’ve read. This book didn’t have a lot of sex in it, maybe three scenes tops (toward the end of the book too), but there was a lot of sexual tension! I’ve read quite a few smut books in my days, including books that aren’t romance but have sex in them, but this one just did something to me (TMI maybe?). ACOMAF for example, has a handful of sex in it. Love the book, love the romance, chapter 55 amiright? But this books second big sex scene, in the closing chapters of the book, was just something utterly raw and carnal and beautiful. So, congrats on JLA for writing a filthy, wonderful sex scene into this book and making me love those few pages more than anything ever. The atmosphere and events surrounding the scene had a lot to do with the portrayal of emotions, too. It didn’t just happen and it wasn’t an “omg I love you, so show me” scene. It was unexpected and powerful…for me anyway. It will definitely stick in my mind until I read something equivalent or better (as if).

Overall, I am so happy I stuck it out with this book. I cannot wait to read the new one (it should be here in physical form by Friday…ugh) and see where the story goes. I also bought a handful of JLA’s books based on how much I liked the two I’ve read this month. Hopefully they’re just as good! Hawke has been added to my book boyfriend list and may be second under High Lord Rhysand. Just saying.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this book. Leave me some comments if you’ve read this! I love a good discussion!

Book Reviews

Heart Bones Book Review

“Love is a lot like water. It can be calm. Raging. Threatening. Soothing. Water will be many things, but even in all its forms, it will always be water. You are my water. I think I might be yours, too.”

Colleen Hoover
4/5 Hearts (stars)

Synopsis

Beyah hasn’t had the easiest life. Her dad hasn’t really been in the picture lately, and her mom just overdosed in their trailer. Beyah can’t afford to live in the trailer alone, and doesn’t move into college until August, so she tells some white lies and moves in with her dad and his new family…so, it’s off to Texas she goes! Beyah is the complete opposite of her dad and his family. They’re rich, peppy, and doing really well. Beyah, on the other hand, is poor, quiet, and is used to fending for herself. Beyah just wants to survive the summer before she can escape to college. However, Beyah’s new neighbor, Samson, throws a large wrench in her plan. Just to look at, Beyah and Samson come from two walks of life, especially because Samson has more in common with her father’s family than Beyah. However, the two of them hit it off and promise to take it slow…until things speed up and they don’t want summer to end. But then, it does…

My Thoughts

As always, I love Colleen Hoover’s writing with a passion. I didn’t know where this book was going at first (I didn’t read the synopsis) but was pleased with the result. I loved Beyah and appreciated seeing how her life wasn’t perfect. In fact, the life she lived growing up was ROUGH. Her mom was an addict, they lived in a trailer, and didn’t have any of the necessities. Her coaches/teachers made sure she was fed and had what she needed for volleyball and for school. Beyah worked at McDonald’s and did some tough things, at a young age, to get money so she could survive. Her dad, on the other hand, lived across the country and was living his best life. He thought he was supporting Beyah via money/gifts etc, but she never saw those things because of her mother. I thought Colleen Hoover did a nice job portraying Beyah’s home life throughout the novel as well. Her mannerisms and memories of being poor didn’t magically disappear when she moved in with her dad and their money.

I also really enjoyed Samson’s character and the mystery that surrounded him. I was weary of him through the whole book because of his inability to answer almost any question, but I looked past it and felt attracted to him just as Beyah does. I loved the relationship they built with each other and what we were able to learn about each of them, through the other. They made me feel an array of emotions and I loved every second of it!

Besides the main characters, I loved the secondary ones too! They brought a lot to the story and really helped us find out who Beyah and Samson truly were. I liked the quirkiness that Beyah’s stepsister brought to the table and I did like how her dad tried to redeem himself for Beyah.

Overall, the plot of this story was fun and I definitely didn’t see the plot twist coming (I guess that’s the point)! The story showed the complexity of Beyah’s life well and showed how she made the best for herself in crappy situations. There were so many times that Beyah could have given up and fallen into the same troubles as her mother, but she persevered. Along with the plot, I loved the writing (per usual). CH used amazing imagery and personification of the ocean throughout the story and it just helped add to the atmosphere.

I think I would have liked an epilogue at the end of the story, kind of looking into the future and seeing where Samson and Beyah were in life. I think that would have added the last bit of closure I needed for the story. Sometimes I felt that I wasn’t reading a CoHo book. I’ve read a good chunk of her stories and this one felt a little different at times, and then it didn’t. I think that may be why I didn’t give it 5 stars. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but something felt a little off and unusual for her. Still, I wasn’t disappointed and very much enjoyed the story!

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: I love Colleen Hoover! This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year (as is her book coming out later this year) and it lived up to the hype I gave it in my head. Also, the cover is BEAUTIFUL. I have a signed copy coming next month and I can’t wait! I read this on my kindle and it was a quick read. I highly recommend this book!