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

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!