Monday, May 20, 2019

Book Review: River Secrets by Shannon Hale

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Series: The Books of Bayern #3
Format: AudioBook
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: Library (I own a paperback)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Full Cast Audio/Bloomsbury
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Bayern has triumphed in its war with Tira. But though the war is over, simmering anger remains among the Tirans and new hostilities could erupt at any moment. In a desperate attempt to maintain the peace, King Geric sends an ambassador to the Tiran capitol. Of course, an ambassador needs a military guard. Razo—short, impish, and not at all skilled at combat—longs to be among those selected to go, but thinks he has no chance. So he is astounded when Captain Talone taps him to join the group. He's even more astounded when he discovers the secret reason for Talone's decision. All too soon Razo is up to his eyeballs in a simmering mix of danger and intrigue—not to mention an unexpected romance. But as the gruesome deaths mount, everyone is a suspect...even the girl who has stolen Razo's heart.

Review

I'm obsessed with the full-cast audiobooks for this series. I didn't remember a lot of the content from this story, but I remembered not liking it as much as the first two. 

Now, I freaking love it. 

Razo is so adorable and I love him. He is incredibly sweet and a great protagonist. I don't know if I've read another lead-especially male-like this. He's awkward, but not too awkward to be hard to read or unrealistic. I suffer from sympathetic anxiety when characters are too awkward and it can be real distracting. Razo also had a growth and compelling journal to read.

There was a mystery element that kept me on the edge of my seat. I really just wanted to lay on my bed and listen to the audiobook. The narrator and other voice actors did a great job bringing these characters to life.

Ms. Hale creates a magical world and it comes across effortless. With each book she adds more to the world and characters to make them feel even more real. She is spectacular author and I'm just in awe.

I'm excited to read/listen to the last book. I remember it being my least favorite, but who knows with the audiobooks.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, May 17, 2019

Book Review: The Earl Next Door by Amelia Grey

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Series: First Comes Love Book #1
Format: ebook
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: NetGalley
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Adeline, Dowager Countess of Wake, is all on her own after her husband’s sudden death. The good news? Losing him allowed her to find herself. Finally, Adeline is free to do, go, and be as she pleases. She cherishes her newfound independence and is not looking for another man to wed. But seeking out a new lover? Well, that is a whole ’nother story. . .


Lord Lyon, son of the two-timing Earl of Marksworth, wishes to have a respectable, loving wife someday. When he meets the beautiful and self-reliant Adeline, Lyon is instantly smitten. But Adeline would rather have the handsome suitor in her bed than to take his hand in marriage. It’s a scandalous proposal—and one that’s hard for Lyon to refuse. Unless the fire of his passion can melt Adeline’s resolve. . .and he can find a way to be the Wickedly Wonderful Widow’s lover for all time?

Review

***I received this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I was interested in the concept of this story. I particularly like this group of three widows who are different and have a strong friendship. However, I wasn't particularly invested in the romance .

Initially, I was enjoying the story. Adeline and Lyon had great chemistry. And they were interesting on their own. Adeline has a great friendship with two other widows-they lost their husbands in the same tragic accident. The three all were a little different and that made for some compelling sequel bait.

Then, Adeline and Lyon had sex. For the first few paragraphs of that interaction-I thought it was some sort of dream sequence. It felt so unnatural. And that's actually how I felt about all of the sex-related interactions between them. It just made me care about the romance less and less every time they interacted. 

Ultimately, I was disappointed by this-more of a 2.5 stars-but I round up. That being said, I would be willing to read stories about the other widows. But I would probably get them from the library in case they have the same pacing issue. 

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Book Review: Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

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Series: Daughter of the Pirate King Book #1
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 311
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed this. It isn't a massive fantasy with multiple POVs and I'm thankful for that. There is a fairly substantial romance element, but I didn't think it was the main focus and I liked it. I haven't read a ton of pirate books and I want to check out more.

Objectively, I can see some issues with this book, but I don't care. There was some "secrets" that were pretty obvious. And Alosa had some SJ Maas heroine tendencies-by which I mean she's almost too perfect and she has skills that conveniently show up. But Alosa had enough issues and believability so I was able to overlook those "issues".

Ms. Levenseller didn't ignore the dark aspects of piracy-especially death. Sometimes people glamorize piracy so I'm glad she didn't stray from all that. And it definitely helped create tension and show how high-stakes situations were. At the same time, it wasn't particularly gory or over-the-top which is how I prefer my violence. 

There is a nice fairly steamy romance. But I feel it was kind of oversold in some reviews and wrap-ups I saw. I am a romance reader so maybe my perspective is skewed. I liked the romantic elements. I'm definitely curious to see how it progresses in the second/final book.

This book has a political aspect-which I like-but it's pirate politics. I like that Ms. Levenseller focuses on the small portion of this world. You don't need multiple countries and 10 maps to keep things organized to have a solid fantasy story. 

I've already purchased the next book and Ms. Levenseller's 2019 release. I'm excited to read both ASAP.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, May 13, 2019

Book Review: Hot Response by Shannon Stacey

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Series: Boston Fire Book #4
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 270
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Gavin Boudreau lives for the job, but he also believes in “work hard, play harder.” As the youngest guy in Ladder 37, he figures he’s got plenty of time before settling down becomes a priority. Soft, pretty women who aren’t looking for promises are exactly his type, and he’s comfortable with that. Working with a gorgeous EMT isn’t going to change who he is.

The last thing Cait Tasker needs in her personal life is a firefighter whose challenges on-scene have been a thorn in her side from minute one. Her plate’s too full for a man anyway. Back in her childhood home to help her family cope with an unexpected tragedy, she’s got enough to handle without throwing a hot, testosterone-laden fireman into the mix.

As long days on the job lead to long nights together, Gavin and Cait will discover how far temptation can take them—and what happens when the one you thought was all wrong for you turns out to be the person you can’t live without.

Review

Is this my favorite Shannon Stacey book? Or has it been a couple months since I read one and I forgot how amazing she is? Who knows, but I freaking loved this. The characters, the romance, the friendships, the world. Seriously, I feel like I'm part of this firehouse family every time I pick up one of these books. 

Gavin and Cait were both great characters and I loved how they foiled each other (look at me using that $200K English degree). He was so nice and I loved how he always found humor in things. And I really appreciated how seriously they both took their jobs and how passionate they were. I understand Cait's family situation, but sometimes she frustrated me. I'm definitely more in line with Gavin's thoughts on it. 

The romance was fun and well-paced. It had some enemies-to-lovers, but wasn't full blown which was nice. I loved that they had to navigate real things like crazy work hours to even go on a date. Sometimes I read romance novels and I wonder if these people even have jobs because they just band all day and night. I'm happy for them but I have bills to pay.

Can I add how much you can tell Ms. Stacey respects first responders. she puts so much care into showing their stories. Firefighters are often treated as sexy, but she really takes the time to build great characters and things like the firehouse family. The hero isn't just a firefighter so we can have firefighter abs on the cover. And I'm so grateful for this. 

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, May 10, 2019

Book Review: Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

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Series: Finishing School Book #4
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 326
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little Brown Books

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Lessons in the art of espionage aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine's floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia's sootie Soap nearby. She would rather thwart dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored. 

Who can she trust? Royal werewolf dewan? Stylish vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way. Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school, and all of London from disaster.

Review

I love Gail Carriger! Her voice as a writer is so unique and intoxicating. There's often tongue-in-cheek humor, but she isn't afraid of dangerous situations. She's able to blend all of this together effortlessly.

This was a perfect ending. Of course I would love to spend more time with many of these characters, but I don't need it. Now, I want to re-read The Parasol Protectorate just to be in this world again. I also want to read the other books she's written.

This review is pretty vague because I'm trying to avoid any spoilers.

Sophronia is a spectacular heroine and I loved going on this journey with her. The friendships and relationships were written well and with great nuance. 

I'm just so glad I read this series and was able to enjoy it. Everyone I picked it up I felt myself smiling.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book Review: Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead

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Series: Georgina Kincaid Book #5
Format: ebook
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Publisher: Kensington

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting into any human form she desires, walking in heels that would cripple mere mortals -- all child's play to a succubus like her.

Helping to plan her ex-boyfriend's wedding is a different story. Georgina isn't sure which is worse -- that Seth is marrying another woman, or that Georgina has to run all over Seattle trying on bridesmaid dresses. Still, there are distractions. Georgina's roommate, Roman, is cluttering her apartment with sexual tension. Then there's Simone, the new succubus in town, who's intent on corrupting Seth.

But the real danger lies in the mysterious force that's visiting her thoughts, trying to draw her into a dark, otherworldly realm. Sooner or later, Georgina knows she'll be too weak to resist. And when that happens, she'll discover who she can trust, who she can't -- and that Hell is far from the worst place to spend eternity.

Review

I have a love-hate relationship with this series. Like I can't stop reading and care about these characters. But there is so much about the content in them that is a pet peeve of mine. Naturally, I will continue to read because I am invested.

There was some serious movement in Georgina's personal story. Including her history-which was where I got really emotional. And the ending almost had me in tears.

Really, I just want to talk my desires for the last book.

So, maybe spoilers ahead.

I really want more information on Carter. Why do these types of stories always have mysterious angels? I am sucker for them. And Georgina's dream better be like the epilogue or something.

I guess this wasn't much of a review. Sorry, I just had to get my thoughts out in the world.

Thanks for reading!
Holly 

Monday, May 6, 2019

April Wrap-Up (2019)

April was a crazy month. I had lots of stuff going on in my personal life that created extra stress. I had to cut back on my YouTube and Blog content to make it through.

Reading was definitely a safe haven. I found myself retreating into books. They are such a magical thing. I was also able to read lots of really good books. I finally have books. I finally have something to put on my top reads of 2019. 

I'm ready for life to be less stressful, but hopefully maintain this reading place. 

Here are the books I read and their ratings.

Succubus Shadows-4 Stars
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Waistcoats & Weaponry-4 Stars
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Manners & Mutiny-5 Stars
18725742

No Other Duke But You-3 Stars
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Hot Response-4 Stars
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Succubus Revealed-4 Stars
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How to Entice an Enchantress-3 Stars
17571127

Organize Tomorrow Today-3 Stars
33905155

Daughter of the Pirate King-5 Stars
33643994

The Earl Next Door-3 Stars
41150501

Riden's Chapter-3 Stars
38712703

River Secrets-5 Stars
10088391

Daughter of the Siren Queen-5 Stars
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Thanks for  reading!
Holly