Book Review: Red Rising

Review

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fast Paced and Riveting

Red Rising is not the kind of book I’d choose for myself. For one, I usually stick to my romance but once in a while, I’ll get a recommendation or the urge to read something different–I can be flexible if the story is gripping. And secondly, the writing style is straightforward, in a staccato-masculine way, and rarely flowery. Most of it is told rather than shown which is usually a big no-no from me. However, there was something… captivating that kept me reading. Perhaps it was the content, or perhaps it was how well it was paced, either way, the fact that I’m not docking more points is a huge deal. 


I found it fascinating that the story was likened to Hunger Games. Sure, there are similarities, however, I found that it was more similar to a warped mixture of:

Gattaca (remember that movie? Had to watch it in high school biology class, funny enough),

Brave New World (also reminds me of good, ol’ high school) ,

Total Recall,

and… okay, fine, a dash of Hunger Games. 


It was a clever combination that kept me going and wondering what would happen at the end. The world is so rich with the distinction of language and even clothing worn by the different classes. Each character had a unique voice and believable motivations that kept the story alive for me. And the last ⅓ of the book is quite the roller coaster. I was kept on my toes with all of the twists and turns that were thrown at the characters. Each failure and triumph kept me wanting for more. 


Overall, I enjoyed this book and I want to buy the sequel. That is high praise. Despite my criticisms of the writing, I believe that it was a fun, and creative story that is worth the read. 

Content Warning: Extreme violence between minors, and cursing

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Favorite Quote

Words are a weapon stronger than he knows. And songs are even greater. The words wake the mind. The melody wakes the heart.

Book Blurb

“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

Book Review: Spellbound After Midnight

Review

Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Refreshing Take



I love a great fairytale retelling, and this story did not disappoint. Spellbound After Midnight crafts a new twist in the classic aged tale of a woman losing a glass slipper. Tessa, a clumsy, spellcasting witch (aka, Fairy Godmother) takes on the task of helping a woman in need. But, when murder is thrown in the mix, Tessa meets the handsome but stern detective Derrick Chambers to solve the devious mystery.

This story had an interesting world that kept me engaged and excited. The story itself had some unique twists and turns that I did not see coming and a decent “bad guy” reveal at the end.

Both main characters were both likable and worth rooting for. Each had their unique backstory and motivations that pushed the story forward. I loved Tess’ independence and willpower throughout and also liked that her stubbornness got her into trouble sometimes. Derrick is a no-nonsense guy with a soft interior, a delectable combination. Their chemistry was amazing but as their romance progressed, I was a little disappointed by the lack of tension I felt between them. When the first romantic scene happened, I was confused because I did not think that both of them were on that level.

Overall, this is a cute story with a great mystery plot. I was pleasantly surprised by its refreshing take on a well-known story. I would definitely recommend it!


Content Warning: One cursory sex scene



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Favorite Quote

He bent his head, lips claiming mine in a devastating kiss. Relief swamped me and made tears gather under my eyelids. Honesty was my new policy from here on out. The reward was too good. Lies? No way, not me.

Book Blurb

Tessa Daniels needs a miracle. Preferably, the kind that comes with cold hard cash. Her magic shop is failing, and she’ll be tossed into the street unless she clears her debt.

When a financial boon arrives in the form of a young woman determined to attend the prince’s ball, a risky spell turns out to be the miracle she needed. That is until the woman is found dead at the stroke of midnight, and Tessa comes face-to-face with the kingdom’s cold, and way too appealing, lead detective.

Detective Derrick Chambers has no use for the supernatural. As the rising star at the Royal Agency, he won’t let magic, or the pretty witch that deals in it, get in the way of solving a murder.

His logic tells him to steer clear of Tessa’s chaos, but a forced partnership soon turns into an attraction neither can resist.

With the body count rising, and the kingdom in a panic, an exposed secret will tear them apart and put Tessa in the sights of a killer where no amount of magic can save her.

Book Review: Dreamspell

Dreamspell by Tamara Leigh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Imagine being able to time travel through dreams–I would be in heaven. 

Dreamspell is a tale that swept me up from the very beginning. Both 21st century and 14th century scenes were woven together beautifully to create an intriguing story. 

The two main characters were easy to relate with and root for. Nedy was a witty and fun character that I laughed along with. Although she acted and said things carelessly, it was forgivable due to the circumstances in which she found herself in. If I believed I was in a dream, I would probably throw a little caution to the wind as well.

Fulke was a cutie and such a gentleman. His reactions to Nedy truly were hilarious and genuine. His suspicions felt organic as well as his genteel nature. I rooted for them but was a little confused as to what he saw in her. She did come off suspiciously witchy and crazy for the time period after all. 

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed this time traveling romance immensely. A little slow at times, I was able to forgive the pacing because the world and story was so magical. I would recommend this!

Note: This is a clean read

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Favorite Quote:

He clasped her to him and lifted a fistful of her hair to his lips. “Sweet Nedy.” He lowered his face to her neck. In spite of her stay in the tower, she smelled as he had only ever dreamed a woman might smell, and when she laid her head on his shoulder, he knew he could not let her go. Having lost so much which he had stubbornly resisted embracing, it was unbearable that he might also lose this strange, beautiful woman.

Book Blurb:

A TIME TO LIVE. A TIME TO DIE. A TIME TO DREAM.
Sleep disorders specialist Kennedy Plain has been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor. When her research subject dies after trying to convince her he has achieved dream-induced time travel and her study is shelved, she enlists herself as a subject to complete her research. But when she dreams herself into 14th-century England and falls into the hands of Fulke Wynland, a man history has condemned as a murderer, she must not only stay alive long enough to find a way to return to her own time, but prevent Fulke from murdering his young nephews. And yet, the more time she spends with the medieval warrior, the more difficult it is to believe he is capable of committing the heinous crime for which he has been reviled for 600 years.

Baron Fulke Wynland has been granted guardianship of his brother’s heirs despite suspicions that he seeks to steal their inheritance. When the king sends a mysterious woman to care for the boys, Fulke is surprised by the lady’s hostility toward him–and more surprised to learn she is to be his wife. But when his nephews are abducted, the two must overcome their mutual dislike to discover the boys’ fate. What Fulke never expects is to feel for this woman whose peculiar speech, behavior, and talk of dream travel could see her burned as a witch. 

Book Review: To Love a God

To Love a God by Evie Kent


I love a little bit of angsty, dark romance and a strong-willed heroine. Sprinkle in a bit of Norse mythology? Perfection. I also tend to stay away from first person POV but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the writing flowed and captivated me.


Who are the stars of the show?


Nora, the female protagonist has everything that I love: wit, spunk, and a fighting spirit. From the beginning, she does not take any of the “you are my toy” crap from our mischievous God and I loved that about her. She had dreams and goals and a will to fight her circumstances. 


 Loki is an intriguing character from mythology so I was interested to see the author’s take on our anti-hero. He was a great mix of an arrogant, smirking prick and a tortured soul. His interactions with Nora were awesome and I liked that he changed his attitude about her simply being a “plaything” for him to discard after he was bored. 


So, what did I not like? 


SPOILERS


I disliked the fact that when Nora had attempted to fight against Loki, he still performed sexual acts on her that she did not verbally consent to. There is also a scene where Nora gets drunk and Loki decides to take advantage of her inebriated state and have sex with her. I cannot condone that and it left a gross pit in my stomach. Although their sexual relationship was consensual from then on out, the romance fell flat after reading those scenes. 


I understand that this is a dark romance and perhaps you may read it in a different light, and perhaps I should not be reading any more dark romances, but I personally could not get past these issues. 


Overall, I really loved certain aspects of the story. I loved the female protagonist and the angsty, dubious situation that she finds herself in. I love that she fights for herself and knows who she is. If you are into strong heroines and a cheeky, horny God then this is the book for you. But, if you detest shady sexual boundaries, then I would stay clear.

Rating: 3/5

Note: This is a 18+ book. There are many sex scenes.

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Favorite Quote:

A shiver cut down my spine; I wasn’t sure how he thought any of this was supposed to be fun for me, but being forced into sexual slavery just wasn’t my idea of a good time.

Book Blurb:

I spent my whole life training to become a ballet dancer—a soloist, a star. Today, I’m a toy, a plaything, a distraction…

An offering.

A sacrifice to a caged god, to the Norse trickster.

Loki.

Trapped in a cave for the sins of his past, he waits for the end of days. Modern worshippers curry favor with gifts and trinkets, spilled blood—and women like me.

Women who resemble his long-dead wife. We all have that look, you see. I’m supposed to be flattered that I remind him of a goddess in an age gone by.

Fuck that.

I’m furious.

The ones who came before me were sweet, docile, compliant—just like her. But I’m not sweet. I’m not docile, and I will never be compliant.

I am resilient. I am determined.

I am—not—drawn to him.

I will survive this.

I will survive him.

My name is Nora Olsen, and I will not die here.

Book Review: Bloodbond

Bloodbond by Sydney Winward


Unrequited Love turns Sweet

Zachariah Degore is not your average vampire. Being feral for ten years has affected his popularity amongst his vampire peers and a certain beautiful vampire that he is fallen in love with. Unrequited love is painful but will it always remain so sour?

If you loved the first book in this series, Bloodbond will not disappoint. From the beginning, the characters hooked me in. I wanted to learn more about them and the more I learned, the more I rooted for them. Zach is so sweet and passionate and you truly feel for him after you learn about his rough past. Laurel also surprised me and I was able to relate to her struggles with love.

I also loved how charming and natural the story turned out to be. There were several moments that made me go “awww!” Overall, I was pleasantly satisfied that this was more than just your average unrequited love story. Instead, this was also about a sweet journey of self-discovery and learning to open your heart to love.

The author did not ask me to read this book and these are my honest thoughts and opinions. I would recommend this book 100%.



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Note: Closed door sex scene

Rating: 5/5

Favorite Quote

He spun her around and couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face when she laughed gleefully. He lifted her up by the waist and she placed her hands on his shoulders as he did so. It felt wonderful to hold her in his arms, even if just for a dance.

Book Blurb

Zachariah Degore spent ten years locked under ground as a feral vampire. Now he has to redefine what it means to be healthy and whole. With his human life behind him, he starts anew in the vampire city of Ichor Knell with the vampire shah as his kin. He must prove he is worthy of his place in this new world.

Laurel Covaci is vampire elite, she would never court a feral vampire. After two hundred years she has yet to find a mate who meets with her satisfaction. She hides the pain of past hurt and abandonment behind a cold façade. Zach is confident that Laurel is the vampire for him, but can he break through her icy walls and convince her he’s the mate she’s been waiting for? 

Book Review: Bloodborn

Not to be confused with the popular video game, Bloodborne, Bloodborn follows a mysterious vampire hunter, Adam Degore, and a compassionate vampire, Willow.

Their romantic journey together starts off rough and only gets rockier. Although their initial meeting is not what the typical person imagines how they would meet their significant other, it certainly has its sexual tension.

While I do not condone the actions of our male protagonist, I understand his motivations and I admire that he stands true to his goals. I also admire Willow for her intelligence and fierceness as well. Although I would not rate their relationship as healthy (especially in the beginning), I was satisfied that it became something sweet and worth rooting for towards the end.

Overall, I find that it is difficult to find a paranormal romance that has believable motivations, and an intriguing world. This book has both. I loved how Sydney Winward combined elements of traditional vampires and magic with her own lore. It creates a unique experience for the reader. The conclusions that each character makes feels solid and believable.

Note: Closed door sex scene

Rating: 4.5/5

Favorite Quote:

She looked confused for a moment, her guard lowering in the slightest as she gazed back at him with those wide, green eyes of hers. She looked sweet and innocent right then, despite nearly killing him. At that moment, she wasn’t a monster, but an intelligent being with thoughts and feelings. He should have walked away. He should have turned away and walked right out the door. But his enraged passion turned to something else.

Book Blurb

Adam Degore’s personal need to find a cure for vampirism drives him to ensnare a vampire, but the creature he captures is Dracula’s daughter. Worse yet, he’s drawn to her—a monster he’s vowed to kill.

Despite her father’s wishes, Willow chooses to live among humans instead of the vampire conclave where she would be safe. She wants a life filled with more than shadows. Being captured by a human, not to mention falling in love with one, is not part of her plan.

With vampires and blood hunters closing in on their chosen prey, Adam and Willow need to trust one another. But will that trust come in time for them to survive and find a future together? 

Book Review: Heart of Dracula

When a woman with incredible empathic powers collides with the most dangerous being, sparks fly.

Kathryn Ann Kingsley paints a beautiful, gothic tale of deadly forces and wicked love. I was enthralled by her prose and beautiful storytelling. From the moment our main characters met, I was caught in a battle of “should she?” and “yes, please”. 

There were moments where I held my breath and hoped that their romance would not take a horrible turn with sexual assault, and I was right to be hopeful. Although dark, their relationship is consensual, albeit twisted, which I can tolerate. Even though I am an advocate for healthy relationships, this does not claim to have such a narrative. The author acknowledges that Dracula is the “bad guy” and so Maxine’s inner struggle to accept or reject him is fascinating. 

Overall, I enjoyed myself thoroughly and wish to read the sequel. 

Note: There are sexual themes and scenes in this book. It is not a “clean” read.

Rating: 5/5

Favorite Quote

“You were wrong, earlier. You are dangerous, Miss Parker. Very dangerous.” His voice was still a quiet whisper. When she looked up to him, she expected to see anger in his eyes. But what there was instead was grief. Grief, and hope, and the knowledge that it would surely die. The expression of a man who knew tragedy was to come and that it was unavoidable. “I should kill you now for the threat you bring me.”

Book Blurb

Boston, 1897.

Death comes to the city heralded by a crimson moon and screams in the night. The Vampire King has come to claim the city, unless he can be stopped…

Maxine Parker has lived a solitary life. Not because she wishes to, but because she has no choice. Her empathic ability has rendered it impossible for her to touch anyone without killing them.

But as she is thrust into the middle of a war between the enigmatic and alluring Vampire King and three stalwart hunters, she learns she cannot kill what is already dead.

Get to know me

Is that a picture of me at a wedding with my husband’s fingers acting as my peace sign?

Maybe…

But, let’s get to the nitty-gritty as one of my favorite Jack Black characters would say.

  1. If you could invent a new dish, what ingredients would it have?
    • Potatoes. Just potatoes. Oh, and a butt-load of butter.
  2. What’s your go-to dance move?
    • The awkward finger pointing, with plenty of windmill, worm movements. Don’t ask. It’s not pretty
  3. What’s the worst fashion or hair decision you’ve made?
    • Circa 2008 Nightmare Before Christmas shirt. That was my shaky attempt at fitting in with the emo/scene kids. Never again.
  4. What would be the silliest feature of your dream house?
    • A small Victorian house-like chicken coop. And all the chickens. Or ducks. Probably both.
  5. What obscure thing are you talented at?
    • Does my exorcist worthy eye shaking count?
  6. What is the weirdest snack you like to eat?
    • Cheez-Its and grapes. Together.
  7. If your pet could talk, what would be his or her catchphrase?
    • “Go away, sir. Go away!” –Archimedes the Jackson’s Chameleon
  8. If you had to make a house out of food, what kind of food would it be?
    • Potatoes
  9. What word do you always mispronounce?
    • Alzheimer
  10. Where did you steal these questions from?
    • Glad you asked! I got them from here

There you have it. Some surface-level information about me! Hope you got a kick out of it as much as I did. Maybe I will do a part 2 in the future. Stay tuned!

Book Review: Fierce Heart

Do not be fooled by the cover!

After reading several romances where the relationship was either questionable or toxic, this was a breath of fresh air. I do not know why I have not come across many portrayals of healthy relationships in books, but this one was so pleasant to read. I loved the MCs and I loved their slow journey to love. Farrendel was one of the best love male interests I have ever come across and I loved his arc throughout the story. Although the story is not filled with drama and twists and turns, I was happy to read their slow burn. Some might even say it is slow but I enjoyed the pacing and I looked forward to every moment that Essie had with Farrendel.

The writing is not saturated with fluffy detail and is very straightforward. I did have some issues with some phrases being brought up over and over but it did not detract from the story overall.

I am happy that I came across this book. I cannot wait for the sequel to come out! Would recommend!

Note: Clean read

Rating: 4/5 stars

Favorite Quote:

She knew what she needed to tell him. She wasn’t sure what difference it would make in this moment, but it was what he needed to hear. “I missed you while you were gone.”

With a puff of a released breath against her hair, Farrendel relaxed. Just a fraction, but enough for her to feel the hint of a tremble in him.

Book Blurb

Essie would do anything for her kingdom…even marry an elf prince she just met that morning.

When a diplomatic meeting goes horribly wrong, Essie, a human princess, finds herself married to the elf prince and warrior Laesornysh. Fitting in to the serene, quiet elf culture might be a little difficult for this talkative princess, but she’s determined to make it work.

With impending war and tenuous alliances, it will be up to Essie to unite her two peoples. And maybe get her hands on elven conditioner while she’s at it.

Book Review: My First, My Last, My Only

I really enjoyed this book a lot. The main characters were both likable and relatable. The humor drew me in and left me smiling and the romance made me swoon. I also appreciated the themes of choosing your own path despite the pressures around you and that true family will be supportive of your dreams. Overall, this book was both fun and heart warming. The only reason I give it four stars was because of my personal issues with the ending, but it was sweet and lovely nonetheless. Would recommend!

Note: One sex scene

Rating: 4/5 stars

Favorite Quote:

The pasta covered in thick sauce lands on my thigh and then slides to the floor with a loud splat to join the wobbling plate before it settles. A long noodle trails down my leg like a snake.

I stare at the mess in horror.

How am I going to joke this one away?

Book Blurb:

Socially awkward and prone to accidents, Franny Dawson has a brand-new project: herself.

Owning the local bakery, The Sweet Spot, has taken all her time and energy and she’s neglected the social aspects of her life. The small lakeside town of Granite Cove, New Hampshire is full of quirky residents eager to help and hinder her new plan.


Mitch Atwater, an award-winning director, returns to town. He has an agenda of his own and is wreaking havoc with her goals and her heart.

Can Franny outwit her nemesis, overcome her perfect sister’s surprise return, and escape the cocoon of her own insecurities to take a chance on love to get her very own happily ever after?