Book Review: The Clown

The Clown by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is no way out and Cora has finally accepted her fate. Stuck in an “inversion”–a pocket dimension–her attraction for a dangerous man deepens. But, acceptance does not mean peace and there are other dangers in the form of smiling faces. 

The writing in this story is phenomenal. Kingsley has always captured my heart by the poetic way she strings words together. It is modern, dark, but also classic in a “creepy-vintage-circus” way that I love. 

Cora continues to be my favorite in this series. I am really attached to her and love the way she handles situations. She is growing as a character and really blooming into her new role in the Faire. I also love how organic and sweet her interactions are with Clown. Although his intentions are vague and ominous, his POV was a welcome addition to the story. 

As for Simon? His wicked antics were amped UP. The reader is reminded again that he is not a “good” man and he is very much still insane. There were moments where I was turned off by his toxic behavior but Kingsley still does a good job stating that these behaviors are NOT right but this is who he is. Despite this, he proved to have other sides that were soft and fluffy. 

The first two books did not have any sex in them but this book seems to have made up for that fact. The heat level is REAL my friends. If you were wondering when that was going to happen… trust me, you will find it here. However, I was a little disappointed by how it all led to that moment. The first two books were leading up to this and yet, it fell a little flat to me. 

I personally read romance for the romance and not the sex and there was an abundance of it. But for those who look for that in your books, it was… NOT vanilla to say the least. Despite this, I still enjoyed it and understand that this is an adult book, a DARK one at that, and those who want that HEAT will be very pleased. 

Plot-wise, there was not a whole lot going on besides Cora and Simon’s relationship. I really like that but I found that I was not devouring this one as much as the first two. The ending, however, was great and I was pleased by the outcome.

In all, I enjoyed it and will come back for more.


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Favorite Quote

“First of all, I’m not your boss. Second of all, I’m not stupid enough to waste my breath. And third, I don’t want to fix you, Simon.” She snickered. “Anybody who looks at you and goes, ‘he’s just moody and misunderstood, I can fix him with a little casual sex,’ needs to get their own freaking head examined.” She set down her coffee mug. “I know exactly who you are. Do I approve of your puppets? No. But I didn’t go into this naïve. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is.”

Book Blurb

A friendly face and laughing heart…will be what tears her soul apart.

Finally accepting that there would be no leaving Harrow Faire, Cora sets out to try to find her new way of life as part of the Family. With that comes her slow acceptance of her attraction toward and, even worse, her feelings for the Puppeteer.

But just as things seemed to be falling into a pattern, things turn upside down—seemingly literally—as Harrow Faire enters “the Inversion.” And her troubles don’t end there when the mute Clown takes a keen interest in her. One that she doesn’t understand until it’s too late.

Mr. Harrow took her from her life to become the Contortionist. But it seems…the Faire itself has other plans.
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If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Clown—book three of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Book Review: Contortionist

The Contortionist by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora lives a mundane life, plagued by chronic pain. All of her dreams and goals have been put to a halt and she resigns herself to a boring job that she’s overqualified for. But when a certain circus comes to town, Cora wishes to relive some of her childhood joy. However, things are not what they seem and something strange lurks within. 

Read this just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. Kathryn Ann Kingsley has captivated me again with this dark, horror romance. I have not read any circus themed books before and boy was I missing out. Kingsley crafts a tale that perfectly blends mystery and creepiness that devoured me whole.

Cora is an extremely likable and sympathetic character. Her voice throughout the story was well-balanced and interesting to read. I was also impressed by the way her chronic pain was portrayed throughout the story. I myself do not suffer from any chronic pain, but I have a brother in law who does. I applaud the author for the raw, and honest portrayal of such afflictions. 

And the Puppeteer? Oooh! Talk about creepy. This character is deliciously insane with a mysterious past that I am dying to read about. I love that his possessiveness of Cora turns her off and she is ready to GTFO. All of their interactions together felt real. There was never a moment where I rolled my eyes and said, “girl, really?” Cora is very level-headed and she knows danger when she sees it. She is not stupid and she reacts like a normal person. 

However, I am genuinely curious to see how their relationship develops in the sequel. I finished the book in one day and I downloaded the sequel equally as fast. I cannot wait. 

To end, all I have to say is, “don’t go through the dark path!”

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Content Warning

Dark, creepy shenanigans. But, otherwise clean read.

Favorite quote

Not all monsters needed a scary backdrop to be terrifying. In fact, some were more frightening without one.

Book Blurb

Come one, come all, to Harrow Faire…and greet your sweetest nightmare.

Cora Glass’s humdrum existence as a bank teller flips upside down when a long-abandoned circus mysteriously returns to life. But the entry fee to this big top show is far more than Cora bargained for.

A deal struck.
A soul…stuck.

As Harrow Faire shines a spotlight on Cora, she discovers there are far more secrets in that three-ring nightmare than she could possibly imagine. Trapped in the world of the fiendish and alluring man known as the Puppeteer, Cora finds herself caught in a war between him and the reclusive Mr. Harrow. Both parties will stop at nothing—even murder—to get what they want.

And what they want…is her.

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If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Contortionist—book one of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

ARC Review: Spires

Spires by Briar Lee Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something lurks beneath an old, German Cathedral–something dangerous and predatory. Vampire. When an explosion of fire releases Villicus from his prison, the creature escapes bent on revenge. His bloodlust cannot be contained and those who cruelly imprisoned him will be punished.

If you are looking for your next classic vampire story, look no further. From the first page, I was captivated. The premise grabbed me and I wanted to read more about Villicus and his plight of revenge. Although omniscient, the story is a well-crafted horror story filled with mysteries and violence. Add a dash of romance and you have Spires: a modern, gothic tale of vampires who seek power, money, and blood.

I love some good ol’ fashion horror in my books from time to time and Mitchell’s vampires did not disappoint. These creatures are terrifying and they hold no love in their hearts for humans. I love that they are actually monsters transformed and are not your typical, sympathetic creatures that are popular in media today.

Even though the story is told from multiple points of view, I was never confused about who we were following next. It was well executed and made for a well-rounded story.

I did dock points for my feelings about the ending which I felt was a little rushed and confusing.

In all, if you want to read something modern, a little frightening, and a little romantic, Spires is the book for you.

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Content Warning

Violence, sexual themes, and death

Favorite Quote

The years of waiting were over. Those who had imprisoned him, the same who had made him, must be found and dealt with. Villicus had a purpose again. He had survived.

Book Blurb

An explosion in a chemical factory turns an ancient German cathedral into an inferno. Unable to save the centuries-old structure, firemen and townspeople watch in horror and sadness as the venerable building, standing since the time of Charlemagne, crumbles to the ground in flames, smoke and ash.

The true horror though, is what had been imprisoned deep beneath the stone monstrosity and is released into an unsuspecting world. Villicus Shanks, a powerful vampire during the Middle Ages, a time when vampires warred amongst themselves to feed on the few humans left alive during the plague, was imprisoned by those who feared him the most—his own kind.

Let loose back into a world brimming with money, greed, power, and huge herds of people, Villicus’s thirst for blood and revenge seems unquenchable until he meets Amanda Brax, a human woman, who steals the heart he thought he no longer possessed. His love for her is tested when he finds the two vampires who imprisoned him, Bale and Nikonar. The two bloodsuckers, who are shocked at his surviving such a lonely and devastating imprisonment, seek his destruction once more by trying to take Amanda from him.

Book Review: The Unseen Heir

The Unseen Heir by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Against all odds, Leisa has returned to her kingdom, bent on warning those she loves of the dangers beyond their borders. She carries a promise to return to the man who once guarded over her but unforeseen obstacles keep them apart… but for how long?

As soon as I finished the first book, The Faceless Mage, I downloaded the sequel and devoured it in one day. I was hooked.

I loved the first book for its slow-burn story filled with political intrigue but the sequel is packed with twists and turns and exciting action. I could not put the book down and I was excited to read what our lovable characters would do next.

Leisa is a great character who is determined to do her part. She does not back down even when she could be in danger. Her fierce bravery and loyalty were admirable characteristics and I wanted to see her succeed. Kyrion on the other hand is just a big, lovable hunk. I love his character arc and was pleased that he learned something valuable at the end as well.

One of my favorite things about this book is how intense the chemistry between the characters are. Even though it is a clean read, the author does a fantastic job at building these electric “almost” moments that reduced me into an internally squealing middle-schooler.

There were many moments where I was like Jake from Adventure Time:

You know it’s good when you’re anticipating that kiss scene. But, I applaud the author for making those “will they?” scenes into a swoon fest that I’ll treasure forever.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed by this author and this series and will be looking forward to the third book that will be coming out later this year.


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Favorite Quote

How did you know it was me?” For a split second, a tiny smile curved Kyrion’s lips, and it almost stopped Leisa’s heart. He was gorgeous even when he frowned, but when he smiled? He was irresistible. “I told you before,” he said. “I will always recognize you. No matter what face you wear.” “But—” “Always.” His eyes held hers firmly, allowing no room for doubt. No room for anything but her quickening pulse and the rush of blood to her cheeks. Oh, heaven help her, but he was dangerous. And not just with a blade.

Book Blurb

Against all odds, Leisa has returned home to Farhall with news of Garimore’s treachery.

But her reception is far from the hero’s welcome she imagined. Instead, she finds herself a prisoner—to the growing fears and suspicions of a man she once considered a father.

To escape, she must forsake everything she once believed in, and leave behind all hope of answers about her past. But if she stays, it means betraying the fragile trust of the man who saved her life in Garimore.

Torn between her duty and her debt, Leisa is forced to flee with Kyrion, leaving behind the only home she can remember for the uncertain sanctuary of Dunmaren—Kingdom of Shadows, home of the night elves. There Leisa must confront her growing feelings for Kyrion, her fear of her own power, and the hostility of a people on the brink of war.

When dire news arrives from Farhall, both Leisa and Kyrion must decide where their ultimate loyalties lie. Can Kyrion find a path to peace that does not require him to give up the only woman he has ever loved? Or will Leisa have no choice but to save the kingdom she still loves at the cost of her own heart?

If you love adventure, mystery, and slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, discover the Legends of Abreia, a new romantic fantasy series for fans of Sylvia Mercedes, Miranda Honfleur and Shari L. Tapscott!

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: 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.