Review


Review: Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Crooked Kingdom
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Series: Six of Crows
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Publication: September 27th, 2016
Rating: 4 crowns

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

 

 

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Kobo 

Crooked Kingdom is the adventurous sequel to Six of Crows, both of which are written by Leigh Bardugo. This book is the last of the duology, and has solidified my opinion towards Bardugo’s writing. It is clear that she is a wonderful writer, who is not afraid to explore the unknown and make YA different and interesting. Her books do not follow any YA trends. She sets her own trends!

 

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom include a cast of characters who each have their own distinct voice, which was really nice to read. It is highly difficult to prevent different voices from blending together, and Bardugo did a great job of defeating that difficult task. Crooked Kingdom follows the six main characters on one crazy, fun, and funny rollercoaster! Along with them, they have taken the world’s most sought-after boy—one who has the potential to change the world with his knowledge about a powerful drug. With this boy, the group goes after the money they were promised with a thirst for revenge!

 

Like I said, this book is rollercoaster. There is always some action happening or some new secret revealed. Kaz, who is the so-called leader of this group, is always either strategizing his next move or has it prepared. He is sneaky, intelligent, and skilled in problem-solving and investigating. His fellow colleagues have grown to not be surprised by Kaz and his plans. That’s what made the book so FUN! When you start to think the characters will have no way out of something, even more trouble ensues. It’s a complicated web of lies and fighting and the group must work their way out of it.

 

I must share my two major dislikes—ones that made me lower my rating. Firstly, after reading this book, I am now completely sure that long books do not work well with me. Just my own personal preference. With such a long book like Crooked Kingdom, I kept getting distracted and finding other things to do instead of reading. The length of a book is not the worst thing in the world; some readers actually love that, which is great. Another dislike was how the ending came to be. I won’t spoil. You get a grand ending and some closure, but not enough.

 

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom remains to be well-written books with well-written characters. You’ll find romance, adventure, mystery, action, and IMMENSE humor in these books. I definitely recommend!

 

 


Review: Red Winter Trilogy by Annette Marie

 

The Red Winter (Red Winter #1) by Annette Marie 

In a few short months, Emi’s mortal life will end when she becomes the human host of an immortal goddess. Carefully hidden from those who would destroy her, she has prepared her mind, body, and soul to unite with the goddess—and not once has she doubted her chosen fate.

Shiro is a spirit of the earth and an enemy of the goddess Emi will soon host. Mystery shrouds his every move and his ruby eyes shine with cunning she can’t match and dares not trust. But she saved his life, and until his debt is paid, he is hers to command—whether she wants him or not.

On the day they meet, everything Emi believes comes undone, swept away like snow upon the winter wind. For the first time, she wants to change her fate—but how can she erase a destiny already wrought in stone? Against the power of the gods, Shiro is her only hope … and hope is all she has left.

RED WINTER includes 10 full-page illustrations by award-winning artist Brittany Jackson.

There was a time where every book I read left me unimpressed and frustrated. Not only did I lose my zeal for reading, but I couldn’t even enjoy the little pleasures in life (Bit dramatic I’m afraid, but stick with me). Luckily, the Book Gods looked down at me in pity and revealed a hidden gem on the Amazon website (it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited!). That book is Red Winter by Annette Marie.

Red Winter is about a young girl, Emi, chosen to host a the spirit of one of the four most powerful spiritual entities, Amaterasu. During a small rebellious act, Emi runs into a Kitsune, Shiro, who  agrees to help her discover the truth… Or does he (dun dun dunnn)?

I’m not going to spoil the book for you so it’s best you just read it for yourself. The story is very unique, I’ve never read any books about Kami’s, Amatsukami, Kamigakari, or any legend in Red Winter. There is so much to learn about this complex world, but it never becomes overwhelming or confusing, even with presence of some of the more particular names. Each character stands on their own and contribute to the overall story in cohesive manner.

Emi was such a delight. I loved her transformation, she went from an obedient slave to a passionate fighter. Although, Shiro was my favorite character. I knew a little about Kitsune’s, because of Teen Wolf (but that was loosely based on the myth), but not to the degree explained in this book. I can’t wait to learn more about Shiro and his mysterious past.

The writing is brilliant. It’s easy to lose yourself in the vivid imagery the author creates, the story flows through one scene to another with almost no effort.

“The hall of worship had two levels and bore a traditional roof in the shape of a shallow pyramid covered in clay tiles, with eaves that curled upward like once-rolled paper that would no longer lie flat.”

And I loved the drawings! There are some images that are drawn in the book that helps the reader picture the scene and they are very talented. It was a nice addition to the story.  

Red Winter was exactly the type of book I was searching for in my reading drought. It had action, suspense, romance, mystery, self-discovery, and so much more. More people should be talking about this book and I hope word spreads, because Red Winter deserves to be acknowledged. I HIGHLY recommend it.

 


 

⊗ WARNING ⊗

 

*If you haven’t read the first book, I suggest you read it BEFORE reading this synopsis, but my review contains no spoilers (just fangirling  lol) so feel free to read the review ONLY.*

 

Dark Tempest (Red Winter #2) by Annette Marie

Emi has dedicated her life to becoming the perfect vessel for the goddess Amaterasu, but the insidious betrayal of another deity has changed everything. Now Amaterasu has charged Emi with an urgent mission: to find and free the earthly gods before mankind is brought to its knees beneath divine tyranny.

At her side is Shiro, the mysterious fox spirit. When she first saved his life, she could never have imagined that behind his cunning and confidence, he was lost—his power bound by a devastating curse and his memories obscured. His veiled history is somehow tied to the missing gods, but he can’t remember how or why.

As their search leads them into the murky depths of the spirit realm, the shadows of Shiro’s past begin to emerge. With each brief awakening of his true self, she loses a little more of him. The fate of the heavens and earth rest in her mortal hands, and she must find the missing gods before time runs out for her world—and for Shiro.

DARK TEMPEST includes 10 full-page illustrations by award-winning artist Brittany Jackson.

This review is more of a rant than a review so take it with a grain of salt. 

SO MUCH IS HAPPENING! I CAN’T CONTAIN MYSELF!

This series is my new obsession and I can’t get enough of it. I want everyone to read it, pet it, hug it, and never let go. It’s so easy to lose yourself in the story, I’m in awe. I’ve read a lot of books (re: A LOT of books), but I’ve immersed myself completely into a story only handful of times and Dark Tempest is one of them.

I picked up the sequel immediately after finishing the first book and I am NOT disappointed. Dark Tempest picks off right where Red Winter ended and doesn’t slow down at all. I think I like this one better than first book, because there was so much happening and we gain a deeper understanding of the characters. We slip through one perilous situation to another without any breaks or relief (I loved it!).

I liked Emi in the first book, but I LOVE Emi in the second book. She’s come a long way to the badass fighter she is now. I’m so proud. And Shiro…Shiro…Shiro. I can’t get enough of him, it’s unhealthy, but I don’t care. I just want to snuggle with that Kitsune. There are a few twists in this book that I didn’t see coming, but WOW. Just WOW.

Please read this series. I want more people to check it out. You will not be disappointed. I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy, but I feel I must prepare myself. Shits about to go down

 

UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW OF THIRD AND FINAL BOOK OF THE RED WINTER TRILOGY


ARC Review: Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones

 

Title:  Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

Author: Darynda Jones

Series: Charley Davidson #11

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Mystery

Release Date: January 24, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Synopsis: A typical day in the life of Charley Davidson involves cheating husbands, missing people, errant wives, philandering business owners, and oh yeah…demons, hell hounds, evil gods, and dead people. Lots and lots of dead people. As a part time Private Investigator and full-time Grim Reaper, Charley has to balance the good, the bad, the undead, and those who want her dead. In this eleventh installment, Charley is learning to make peace with the fact that she is a goddess with all kinds of power and that her own daughter has been born to save the world from total destruction. But the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished forever to the darkest corners of another dimension. With the son of Satan himself as her husband and world-rocking lover, maybe Charley can find a way to have her happily ever after after all.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

Darynda Jones has proven once again why the Charley Davidson series is one of my favorite books to read. This story holds a special place in my heart, not only because it was one of the first Adult books that I’ve read, but because I can’t get enough of the characters.

You will not find another Charley- trust me, I’ve looked. She is a special character that can make you giggle with her quirky attitude and upbeat sense of humor. She’s also a strong protagonist that can fight her own battles and stand up for herself when the occasion arises. Reyes is another obsession of mine. He is just so compelling and male, but still insecure and a little broken.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight deals with Reyes’ upbringing and readers get to learn more about his childhood, which tugged at my heart, but I also got a better understanding of him. I must say that he turned out very well considering his sordid past. I might actually be a little in love with him, which doesn’t dwell too good for me since he only has eyes for Charley, but I’ll cure my broken heart by reading more books about him.

Also, I miss Beep and I want to see her grow up and interact with everyone. I want to get to know the child of Charley and Reyes and I hope we get to see more of her in the next installments. I’m still rooting for a spin-off for her (*fingers-crossed*).

And that ending! It’s cruel to leave us with that ending. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, because you can’t just leave readers with that ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I won’t talk much about it, but be prepared…you’ve been warned.

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight incorporates everything I love about the series- the characters, humor, mystery, writing, and pretty much everything else. It would be tragic to miss out on this experience, so I suggest you check it out.

*I received my copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*


Meet Charley Davidson in the very fist book,

First Grave on the Right

This whole grim reaper thing should have come with a manual.
Or a diagram of some kind.
A flow chart would have been nice.

Charley Davidson is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. Meaning, she sees dead people. Really. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (like murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely. But what does he want with Charley? And why can’t she seem to resist him? And what does she have to lose by giving in?

With scorching-hot tension and high-octane humor, First Grave on the Right is your signpost to paranormal suspense of the highest order.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N


ARC Review & Excerpt: The Neighborhood by Stylo Fantome (+Giveaway)

 

 

It’s Release Day for The Neighborhood by Stylo Fantome!

 

Check out my review and an excerpt!

 

Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win $50 Amazon Gift Card.

 

Title: The Neighborhood
Author: Stylo Fantome
Series: Twin Estates #2
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Rating: 3.5 Stars

SummaryThings a bad neighbor can do to you:

1. Have loud parties late at night

2. Refuse to mow his lawn

3. Steal your newspapers

4. Rip your heart out and walk all over it

Katya Tocci is willing to admit that she may have bitten off more than she could chew.

Liam Edenhoff showed her a side of life she’d been missing out on – sex and friendship and tacos. But then he betrayed her.

Wulfric Stone taught her that big surprises can come from unexpected places – like from a surly, aggressive, withdrawn bastard. But then he broke her heart.

Now one of them wants forgiveness, and the other wants forever. And Katya? She just wants to forget.

Who knew neighbors could be so difficult?

This story contains scenes of a graphic sexual nature, multiple uses of coarse language, and quite possibly enough confusion to drive a normal person insane. Reader discretion is advised.

 

99c for a limited time!

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
Free in Kindle Unlimited

The Neighborhood is about Katya, our protagonist, is stuck between two very different, but incredible guys. After the events of Neighbors, Katya feels betrayed, hurt, and a little vengeful. The Neighborhood deals with Katya’s progression through the pain to gaining confidence while contemplating which boy is the right one for her.

This book surprised me. Not only were there some nice twists that I didn’t expect, but the tone of this book is different than the first one. The Neighborhood felt deeper and more profound than Neighbors. Self-reflection, enlightenment, and finding who “you” are is a frequent theme, especially towards the end. We also get a deeper understanding of the characters, their fears and goals, as well as previous experiences that made them who they are today.

Don’t be alarmed though, there is romance in this book. A lot of romance, so you will get your fill of steamy, hot action. The two suitors couldn’t be more different in my opinion. Liam is literally the boy-next-door. He has a fun, joyful, laid-back personality that makes it easy to adore him. But he doesn’t hold a candle to my main man, Wulf (even his name is intense). Wulf is a more toned-down, empathic (well, more emphatic) version of Jameson Kane from Stylo Fantome’s Kane Trilogy. He’s that “manly” man if that makes sense. He’s driven, confident, and demanding. He doesn’t deal with bullshit and always gets what he wants. I mean, what else do you look for in a man?

When it came to our heroine, Katya, I have mixed feelings. Although she learns from her mistakes and begins to transform into a better person, I just didn’t like the way she handled the situation originally. I understand why she did what she did, but it doesn’t make me like her any better.

Despite Katya’s unsavory decision, the journey towards her self-discovery made this book better. I know the romance industry is convoluted with so many books, and it can be overwhelming to choose one, but I highly recommend Stylo Fantome’s books. Give this series a try if you like romances, dominant males, and a strong character development.

P.S. if you haven’t read the Kane Trilogy then I feel sorry for you. You are a missing out on  THE Jameson Kane, A.K.A. Satan.

*I received an ARC from the author for an honest review.*

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Review: The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee

Title: The Secret of a Heart Note

Author: Stacey Lee

Series: Standalone

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Coming-of-Age

Publication Date: December 27, 2016

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

 

Goodreads / Amazon / B&N / Kobo

“The power of the flower.”

The Secret of a Heart Note is about a young girl, Mimosa, A.K.A. Mim, who has a keen sense of smell that allows her to read emotions, personalities, and even make elixirs for those seeking love. During a routine love matching, Mim makes the mistake of matching the wrong couple and as a result, she is on a mission to rectify the error before it’s too late.

The synopsis of The Secret of a Heart Note gives a good idea about the book, but there is so much more than that. The number intricate subplots might be confusing to keep up with, but I think they make this story more complete. Despite the predictable ending, I find no fault in this storyline, which kept me entertained the entire time, and occasionally, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the scenes. The secondary characters are not just carbon-copies of cliches, but they’re a diverse bunch that hold more complexities and depth, setting a more realistic tone.

But the character that really stood out was our protagonist, Mimosa. She was a delight to read. She stands out in a crowd and accepts that her peers find her odd instead of dwelling in self-depreciation and the “woo-is-me” attitude. She carries a confidence in her, even in moments of vulnerability, that is inspiring. I love her overall attitude and personality.

“Her eyes almost cross. ‘And those amber eyes, like that cougar I saw on Big Cats. A little mascara and gloss, you could do runway. You’ve got the height and the lines.”

“‘Thanks’ I’m not sure what kind of lines she’s talking about. Far as I know, models don’t really speak at all.”

Another character I really enjoyed was the love interest, Court. The boy-next-door with family issues who falls in love with the quirky outsider is not a new concept, but the execution was perfect. You can’t help, but fall in love with Court and his loyalty to his family. The romance is a part of the story, but doesn’t dominate the storyline.  

You don’t just get a fiction romance with The Secret of a Heart Note. Readers can also learn quite a bit about flowers, their origins, and capabilities from this read. The descriptions of smell is an impressive feat too. Smell is very difficult sense to convey, but Stacey Lee knows her olfactory senses, because I could actually picture the smell with her descriptions. The writing is noteworthy (Get it? Because of the title…Ok, I’ll stop.) and should not be neglected.

“This is a key part of the interview. A lie smells like pewter and sour grass with stale yellow undertones, rather like a sweaty palm that has been clutching dirty coins.”

Mim’s gets herself in pickle and although I didn’t approve of some of her decisions, the overall story was very well-written. There are some instances that were predictable (at least for me), but I didn’t let that stop me. The diverse set of characters, various subplots, and exceptional writing makes The Secret of a Heart Note a memorable read. I enjoyed this book and I think many others will too.

All quotes are from a finished e-copy.


ARC Review: Ever Over After by J.A. DeRouen (+Giveaway)

 

LOW OVER HIGH (THE OVER DUET #1) IS ON SALE FOR 99¢!

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

Title: Ever Over After

Author: J.A. DeRouen

Series: The Over Duet #2

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Publication: January 9, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars!!

Summary: Marlo … wild-eyed, untamed, and every single thing I’ve ever wanted from this life. I wasn’t ready for her back then. I was a stupid boy with adult feelings and no idea what to do with them. I squandered away every chance she gave me.

Yes, love like ours either burns white hot or crumbles under the pressure.
And now I’m back to sift through the rubble.

Questions and excuses are two things I have in spades. What I need now are answers.
Answers and Low.
Always Low.

My name is Ever Montgomery, and this is my story of love resurrected.

Goodreads / Amazon 

I can’t say enough good things about this book/series. I didn’t just want to dive headfirst into Ever Over After after reading Low Over High, I wanted to savor it then devour it. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait long to read it, but now that it’s finished, I feel a little empty and lost.

EOA1 photo EOA Teaser Chance_zpsccyqhtc6.pngWhat stands out the most in this series are the characters. They couldn’t be more real if they were made of flesh and bone- they are very complex and genuine.

I thought I loved Ever in the first book, but I didn’t know love until I read the second book. His character growth and maturity in this book is outstanding and his tenacious attitude is inspiring. Instead of wallowing in self-depreciation and guilt from his mistakes, he pursues a brighter, better future. And I love him so much more as a result.

Marlow is another strong-willed character, who I thought handled her situation well. One should realize that everyone deals with problems differently and Marlow’s method is compatible with her personality. Her tough exterior is only a facade and deep down she’s actually vulnerable and insecure. But what I liked most about her was her banter and wit. She can hold her own against anyone, which makes her stand out against other female characters I’ve read and it’s refreshing.

But when you get these two characters together, grab a fan and some cold refreshments, because the romance is over-the-charts. It’s passionate and steamy. Take a good look, Nora Roberts, because J.A. DeRouen is ready to play with the big boys.

I finished Ever Over After in one sitting due to the nice pace, avoiding any dullness or lull. You get what you paid for with this one- a very well-written story. And let’s give a big shout-out to Jeb, the amazing side-kick/bartender/comedian in the story. He’s a special character, indeed. In the end, I have nothing bad to say, so I’m not going to say anything more. Except, read it.

 photo EOA Better Man_zps8nybtpqf.png

*I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.*

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Review: The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3) by Marie Lu

 

Title: The Midnight Star
Author: Marie Lu
Series: The Young Elites
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication: October 11th, 2016
Rating: 5 crowns

SummaryThere was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all she’s gained.

When a new danger appears, Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds, putting not only herself at risk, but every Elite. In order to preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes and Noble / Kobo

Marie Lu, how do you come up with these stories?! Oh, how I would love to look inside her noggin! I bet her emails and text messages are just as beautifully written.

I am a bit late as this book was released months ago, but now I can say that the Midnight Star has sewn together the Young Elite’s journey so perfectly well. It is really breathtaking to see how far these characters and the world have traveled. Adelina Amouteru is entirely imperfect. She is stubborn, ambitious, and beyond cruel. She chooses not to empathize. Adelina makes such mean and wrong decisions that are based on her motives and benefits. It is difficult to read such a dark and vengeful perspective. However, it is also so fascinating to be absorbed in her mindset!

The writing is amazing and sensitive. So when Adelina feels pain, the readers feel it right with her, through the power of Marie Lu’s words. I felt every bit of scared when Adelina’s illusions become uncontrollable. The writing is just as great at maneuvering through each character’s thought processes. Raffaele is very different from Adelina, and that is clear in the way his thoughts move from one to the other.

There is no quiet moment in this book! The plot is rich– full of action and suspense. The story makes sense, which is what I really look for in a book. The events that follow each other fit together as one giant plot. Each event or each piece of dialogue is put in there for a reason, connecting to the larger story.

There’s not much else to say since this book is just a dark bundle of joy on its own. I do not want to give away too much plot details. I would recommend it if you’re all right with reading about a character who does terrible things and has her own way of looking at the world and herself. If you haven’t tried the Young Elites series yet, you should!