Book Reviews

Legendborn Book Review!

Don’t make your life about the loss. Make it about the love.”

Tracy Deonn

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Summary From Book

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. 

My Thoughts

I didn’t think I would love this book as much as I did. I’ve been on an adult smut kick, so going to a YA fantasy was a shock to my system. However, I could not stop reading this book once I started. A friend of mine was raving about how amazing this book was, so I decided to pick it up (I also have two copies of it from subscription boxes). I was not disappointed!

The author shares their take on the story of Merlin and it is beautifully done. I found myself a bit overwhelmed with information and following all the bloodlines and things, but there’s a super helpful cheat sheet in the back of the book that saved me. I’m usually not into the Merlin-esque fantasy but Deonn did a phenomenal job making it captivating.

I LOVED Bree so damn much. What a hardcore character. I loved her personality and how she speaks up for herself. She wants to find out about her mother so she is going to do whatever it takes to get answers. I was wary of her best friend for the first like ¾ of the book. I thought Deonn was going to come back and make her a bad guy, but that didn’t happen (thank goodness – don’t do Bree like that)! The main love interest in the book, Nick, was a decent character. He was a bit dull for my tastes and I found myself shipping Bree with Selwyn…I’m hoping that there’s a second book and that that specific relationship is explored more. We all know I’m a sucker for the bad boy. Speaking of Sel…what a guy. I HATED him at first but once we actually got to see into his character; swoon (it can’t just be me, right?).  The side characters were also pretty great. They played a part in the plotline and I appreciated how Deonn didn’t add them in and then make them insignificant. They had purpose.

Deonn also tackles racism and microaggressions that people have toward people of color. Bree acknowledged the issues and brought to light why some of the thing that were said were inappropriate, even if the person saying them didn’t understand or thought they were “just joking”. I appreciated that Bree was a character of color and that Deonn included the hardships that she faces, even in a fantasy based book. So often we get characters of color and they don’t face any hardships or issues, and it isn’t relatable or realistic. Kudos to Deonn for being authentic in her writing.

Overall, the plot of the book was enjoyable. There was A LOT of detail and building of the Merlin lines and story, but it was done gracefully. I also like the Hunger Games-esque feel to the story. However, Bree was even more badass than Katniss, IMO.  I was rooting for Bree and scared for her all at once. She had absolutely no training for anything related to this world, but she didn’t let that stop her.

When the story ended I immediately had to research if there was going to be a book two…all I found was that there’s a possibility for one in 2021. I’m hoping that’s true! I can’t wait to continue this story and see where the magic takes Bree and the others.

Book Reviews

Black Sunshine Book Review

I was the monster under your bed.”

Karina Halle – Black Sunshine

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis (from back of book)

All Lenore Warwick wants for her 21st birthday is to hang out with her friends, finish her second year at Berkeley with flying colors, and maybe catch the eye of a hot musician playing a show at a club that she can now (legally) get into.
Unfortunately, fate has other plans for her.
A week before her birthday, she’s kidnapped by the brooding and dangerous stranger with cold eyes and a lethal touch, who has been stalking her on San Francisco’s fog-shrouded streets. Absolon “Solon” Stavig isn’t your average criminal though. He’s a centuries-old vampire who’s caught between wanting to kill Lenore and wanting to save her.

You see Lenore, too, is a vampire.
She just doesn’t know it yet.

Taken by a pair of vampire slayers when she was just an infant, Lenore was raised never knowing her true nature. All Lenore knows is that she has (normal) parents who love her, that she’s exceptionally smart, and she’s squeamish around blood. But once she turns twenty-one, she’ll fully turn into a vampire, and Solon hopes he’ll be there to guide her, opening her eyes to her deepest hunger…both sexual and otherwise.
But this turning can’t be kept a secret. Soon both slayers and vampires are hunting Lenore, with only Solon and his unpredictable motley crew of vampires to save her.
If they don’t kill her first.

My Thoughts

When Karina announced this book, I was SOOOOO excited! I’ve read a handful of her books and her paranormal type ones are my favorite. This book did NOT disappoint. Vampires, sex, and plot…what more could you need?

Things I loved:
– There weren’t really any characters I disliked. I was iffy on Absolon at first but quickly fell in love with him once I got to know him more. Lenore has quite the backstory and I am here for it! Her parents are intriguing and I would have liked to see more from them.
– The character connection to the Experiment in Terror series…that was a fun easter egg!
– I liked the vampire/witches plot. I would love to see more about witches (I think this is supposed to be a standalone..hint hint Karina…we’d love more!). It was interesting how Lenore fit in with witches/vampires and I liked the origin story that Karina created for Vampires.
– The steam! Karina writes great smut and I love the added bonus of this book having vampires! One of my favorite things to read (besides Fae… I like what I like).
– The emotion..when Lenore was feeling something, I was feeling something. KH does a great job building up a character’s emotions and making the reader feel them too. When Lenore was sad, I was sad. When she was pissed, so was I, and so on. KH writes strong female leads and I always transport myself into their shoes. The writing lends itself to this and I am always pleased with KH’s style!

Things I Didn’t Love:
– I felt the climax of the story was a tad rushed. We had all this build up about Skarde and who he is, and then the climax happened and it was over in the blink of an eye.
– I want to know more about Jeremias. He was a huge plot point (in my opinion) and I barely know anything about him. If this really is a standalone book, the lack of closure with him has left me a bit empty.
– I would have loved more exploration into the beast side of Absolon. It reminded me a lot of Ryder from The Fae Chronicles, and I wanted (needed?) more! It was a good concept and the back story was interesting for why he was like that.

Take this with a grain of salt! Some of these are just preference! Overall, I loved this book and REALLLLLLYYY hope that this turns into a series!

Book Reviews

Serpent & Dove Book Review

“Maybe men can learn a thing or two from women.”

Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Synopsis (from back of book)

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all. 

My Thoughts

I had high hopes from this book because I read so many good things about it…however, I was disappointed. I feel like this book had SO much potential but it fell a little flat for me.

I loved the concept of church vs. magic but felt it wasn’t executed well. There really wasn’t that much magic in the book, but there was a lot of churchy-ness. The religious aspect of the book was fine, but I felt like it was there to counter the magic aspects, but it just ended up being a lot of religious jargon and not enough witch stuff to make it make sense. I loved Lou’s character so much. Lou, CoCo, and Ansel were the positive points for me throughout the story. Lou is a fierce fighter and has lived quite the life. Then, SM makes her fall for Reid who is the definition of BORING. I don’t know that I’ve read a book with a more boring lead male character (that probably isn’t true, but at the moment it is). I think part of the reason I didn’t enjoy read was because of how his chapters were executed in the audiobook. I only read a handful of chapters, but listened to the rest, and found his chapters to just be blah. I didn’t like the voice of the person on the audiobook and found Reid’s chapters to be dull. I wanted to see more from Lou, or even would have liked to see a chapter in Ansel’s POV.

It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I was truly invested in the story. There was more action in the last chunk of the story than the entire book put together. I wish the action was more spread out through the story. That being said, I feel like the book was way too long for what was going on. Some parts could have been scrapped completely, and nothing would have really changed.

I guess if I learned anything from reading this, it’s not to believe the hype of books. This is the third book that I’ve read into they hype and been disappointed. The first was the Shadow and Bone series (I made it halfway through book 2), second was Cruel Prince (I made it to chapter 4) and now this one. Sign. Will I buy book 2 of this series…yes…yes I will. Only because I was intrigued by the end of book 1 AND because cover is stunning. I’m willing to give Blood and Honey a try…yes..open mind and all that jazz.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed by this book, but I didn’t hate it. It did have some redeeming qualities (Lou and witches) that made me interested in reading. I hope that book 2 has more action and magic than this book. I’d love to see less church/religious politics and more witchy-goodness!

Book Reviews

Fat Chance, Charlie Vega Book Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

Charlie is a 16 year old, fat, brown girl that is just trying to live her best life. Her best friend is everything everyone else loves in a girl, making Charlie feel like she lives in her shadow. This book takes us through the journey of what it’s like being a fat girl in our current society. We follow Charlie through arguments with her mom, love and heartbreak, and get an inside look at her self-esteem and thoughts about herself. This is beautifully written and is relatable whether you’re 16 or 27!

My Thoughts

I can honestly say that I don’t think I have emotionally related to a character so much in my life before. Charlie is a fat, brown girl living in today’s cruel society with unrealistic expectations. I relate to the fat part, which is mostly what this book focuses on. This story made me time travel back to my high school years and relive all of the crap I went through because I wasn’t meeting the societal standard appearance wise. Like Charlie, I had stunning best friends, had boys talk to me so they could talk to them (or so they could later tell me they would never date someone like me…that happened in 7th grade), dealt with family members constantly ragging on my weight, struggled to shop in “normal” stores, and had really terrible self esteem and self worth. Hell, I just turned 27 and I STILL struggle with body image and not comparing myself to everyone. Like Charlie, I follow all the body positive “fatshion” people, hype them up, think they’re the most beautiful people in the world (they are!) and then look in the mirror and want to rip out my hair because of what I see.

Charlie struggles with herself throughout the book because of how she sees herself and how she thinks others see her. My favorite part is that Charlie didn’t go on a diet and didn’t try and change how she looked because of the pressures around her. By the end of the book, she looked exactly the same, but she was learning to love the skin she was in. I think this is such an important message, especially being a YA book. So many times I’ve read books with “plus size” main characters and in order to be happy or find love, they have to change who they are inside and out, so that they can conform with society. What kind of message is that sending? I appreciate so much how Crystal wrote this story. It made it feel more real to me.

I saw so much of myself in Charlie and wish that I was able to be more loving toward myself at her age. This book really made me open my eyes (I may have also splurged on some hot bathing suits for the summer because the confidence this book instilled in me) and made me see that my size and shape is NOT what defines my happiness. If I want to change something or try to be more healthier, sure I can do that. BUT, I don’t have to change anything to fit the norms of this shitty world. I don’t need to look like the super models (hell, even “plus size models” don’t meet up to what I think is plus size), I don’t need to try every fad diet to be healthy, or go to the gym every day…I just need to take care of me, starting with my mental health!

Seeing Charlie grow throughout the story was beautiful as well. I wanted to punch Cal in the face, and fell in love with Brian. There may have been some tears at some point…maybe a lot. I appreciated the relationship Charlie had with her mother. Relationships with parents are hard and nowhere near perfect. Their relationship, minus a few quirks, reminded me a lot of what I saw with my friends and their moms or dads growing up.

So, thank you to Crystal Maldonado for writing this beautiful piece. I can’t rave enough about your portray of a protagonist fat girl. You made a relatable and wonderful story and I hope high schoolers read this story and can see themselves in Charlie, just like I did. Thank you!

Book Reviews

The Fae Chronicles Review

He’s my drug of choice, and I don’t think there’s a rehab for it.”

Amelia Hutchins

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Short Synopsis of Overall Series

This series follows Synthia, an Enforcer of the Guild, as she navigates the human world and Faery. Her path crosses with Ryder, a sexy and powerful Fae male, as they work to solve a mystery. Throughout the seven books they have to constantly solve problems, work together, and save the world. There’s TONS of sexy times and lots of other action too! Through the fight for life, plot twists galore, and lots of magic, Synthis and Ryder do their best to fight for what they believe in, even if it’s two separate things.

My Thoughts

I’m going to format this review like I format my GoodReads reviews. Since I’m doing all seven books at once, and they’ve all jumbled in my brain, I’m just going to list things I loved and things I didn’t love. Easy enough!

Things I loved about this series:

  • If you ever need to read some good smut…this series is it for you. It starts with some serious sexual tension and it just gets more delicious as the books progress.
  • I was introduced to Fae in ACOTAR by Sarah J Maas, and this book just made my Fae expectations even higher. I love Rhysand from ACOTAR so much, but for me, Ryder just stole the limelight in my heart. What a creature he is. Oof.
  • I enjoyed the aspect of mystery in this series. There was plot that kept me interested when there wasn’t smut ensuing. I was invested in the storyline and the relationships and characters.
  • Ristan…I love this Demon so damn much. He is such a great character. He brings a sense of comic relief and definitely balances Ryder and Synthia.
  • The world Faery: I enjoyed how this world panned out. We start in Washington State and find out about this place called Faery which is where all the magical creatures live. The way AH builds this world caught my attention. In the first book, we only get glimpses of this world, usually through other POVs, but as we become more familiar with it in later books, it’s a very fascinating place.
  • I really enjoyed the plot twists that AH threw in throughout the series (even though some made me cry forever). It’s always nice to spice things up, especially when you have a long series like this one.
  • I highly appreciate that AH has in depth content warnings in the front of each book. Her books have some risky and uncomfortable topics that could definitley trigger some people. I wish more authors did this so that we didn’t have to search far and wide to figure out if the book is going to be okay for our mental health. So kudos for that.
  • Eliran…what a saint. I love this character. He’s Ryder’s trusted healer and he really just puts his heart into his work.
  • The Transition…wow. This was a fun twist I didn’t expect. I love how Fae start off as “human” looking and then hit puberty at around 21 and then turn into true Fae. It’s fascinating. The whole feeding thing that they have going on is very erotic also, and I’m here for it!

Things I didn’t like:

  • I didn’t know that there were companion series that went with this one, so when I got to book six I thought I missed a whole book. There’s some things that weren’t resolved at the end of chapter 5, that are magically okay at the beginning of book 6 and I was really confused. Apparently things get fixed in these companion books that I didn’t know existed.
  • Some of the writing isn’t great. There’s a lot of repetitive phrases that are used and could have easily been replaced with other words. There are also some chunks that the character says something and then repeats almost the same thing. I feel like some of these scenes could have been removed.
  • Occasionally, the POV changes to Ryders and the way he’s written in his own head is really cringey to me. He sounded very abrasive and it made me uncomfortable being inside of his head. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be, but I wasn’t a fan of some of his chapters (there aren’t many).
  • There’s also one random chapter in one of the books in Adam’s perspective. This threw me off. I remember being pissed because I don’t like when the perspective changes a lot in a book…especially randomly. But then, we never got another chapter in his POV…I didn’t think it was necessary.
  • I noticed A LOT of similarities between this and ACOTAR (the Fae courts, names/characters, etc). I looked it up and this came out first. So I wonder if SJM was inspired by this at all. I don’t dislike that, but when things are really similar (Ryder and Rhysand, Morrigan, Eris, Fyre, Court of nightmares, winter/spring/summer/autumn courts) it’s interesting and I need more information.
  • Some of the names that were choses are SO similar to other names already in the book. Example: Ristan and Dristan….Ryder and Spyder. I think these name similarities irked me the most. Sometimes when I’m reading, I’d read Dristan as Ristan and then have to reread a chunk. Spyder also reminded me of the hyper kid at the end of the movie Holes.

Even with the things I didn’t like, I was so intrigued and engulfed emotionally into this series, I had to give each book 5 stars. They had everything I love: Fae, Smut, Mystery, so I couldn’t resist. I’m currently rereading chunks of each books so I’ll continue to add to this post as I go! Enjoy what I have so far…for now!

Book Reviews

Fables and Other Lies Book Review

I pity those who can’t get lost in fictional worlds.”

Rating: 4/5 Cups of Tea (Stars)

Back of the Book Synopsis

Do you believe in curses?

I never did.

Not until that fated night, six years ago, when I sat in The Devil’s Chair and made a wish.

Not until it came true.

Not until I met River Caliban himself, heir to a fortune of curses. My fated sworn enemy.

I knew I should have stayed away from him. I should have run the other way when he called out my name, when he flashed that sinful smile of his, but instead, I walked toward him, leaving the light behind. Instead, I go against all reason, against all warning, and attended the gala of the year at his dark, allegedly haunted home at the top of the hill.

The moment I step foot inside I know I’m in trouble, but there’s something about River that magnetizes me, reels me in, and when he asks for the impossible, I find it impossible to turn him away.

My Thoughts

This was one of the last books I bought in 2020 and it was the first book I read of 2021. I was intrigued by the title, the cover, and the length of the book. I hadn’t intended to make it my first read of the year, but I’m glad that I did!

I loved the main character, Penelope (Penny for short). She told the story well and I was interested in the story she had to tell from the beginning of the prologue! Her friends were a fun add to the plot as well, as was the main male character, River Caliban.

The gothic storytelling and use of fables (and other lies) is something I don’t usually dive into. I really enjoyed how two feuding families, a curse, and everything in between played out. We just watched Holes, and it reminded me of the curse and families in the movie…which was ironic and funny. The supernatural aspect of the story was done well also. It wasn’t overwhelming but held enough of the plot to keep us moving through and engaged in the story.

The island that Penny grew up on celebrates Carnival once a year, for a whole week, and that’s when most of the book takes place. I would have liked to have more description of different activities that were happening because it was fun and interesting, but also because Carnival was a large part of the plot. The way the costumes and festivities were described was done very well and I had very vivid images of what was going on in my head.

The main part that left me unfulfilled in this book is the lack of romance. There is some, but it’s slow burn and pretty brief. With the book being a little over 200 pages long, the slow burn doesn’t really work and by the end, I was invested in the relationship and wanted MORE. The romance had so much potential because it was unique, but I was sad when it ended and I didn’t have all the sexy times I anticipated.

Later in the story there are a few chapters that switch POV. However, this switch also changes the writing from first to third person and that was quite jarring for me. The chapters were very short during these switches and I don’t know why the change from first to third happened. I didn’t necessarily feel like anything was gained by doing so, so I’d be interested to find out the author’s reasoning.

Overall, the plot and characters were fabulous. I have never read anything by this author and will definitely be checking out more! It’s an easy and quick read and was worth picking up. I’m happy to be starting 2021 on a high note!

Book Reviews

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!

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!

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!