Book Review

Book Review: New Orleans Rush by Kelly Siskind

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 310 pages
Author: Kelly Siskind
Publisher: Everafter Romance
Release Date: April 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Falling for your surly boss is a rotten idea.
Letting him saw you in half is even worse…

Beatrice Baker may be a struggling artist, but she believes all hardships have silver linings…until she follows her boyfriend to New Orleans and finds him with another woman. Instead of turning those lemons into lemonade, she drinks lemon drop martinis and keys the wrong man’s car.

Now she works for Huxley Marlow of the Marvelous Marlow Boys, getting shoved in boxes as an on-stage magician’s assistant. A cool job for some, but Bea’s been coerced into the role to cover her debt. She also maybe fantasizes about her boss’s adept hands and what else they can do.

She absolutely will not fall for him, or kiss him senseless. Until she does. The scarred, enigmatic Huxley has unwittingly become her muse, unlocking her artistic dry spell, but his vague nightly activities are highly suspect. The last time Beatrice trusted a man, her bank account got drained and she almost got arrested. Surely this can’t end that badly…right?

WHERE CAN I GET A MAGICIAN LIKE HUXLEY?

This quick romantic comedy is a hidden gem in the genre. I absolutely adored this and it took me a day to finish because of it!

Beatrice is effervescent and optimistic about most things in her life. Being betrayed by the men she’s known (including her Father) she ends up in New Orleans, single, without a job or a home. But then she meets…HUXLEY. Oh their chemistry is dynamite y’all. Sparks flying every which way it could light up a night sky.

I couldn’t get enough of their banter and flirtatious moments. It was purely them meeting and getting to know each other that formed their friendship turned romance. I usually prefer a stand-out trope (like enemies to lovers) but this worked in such a magical way I was smitten with them. I love that Huxley took care of Bea and helped her get on her own two feet. Not only that, but Bea helped Huxley see the glass half full rather than empty. These two peas in a pod really completed each other. THEY’RE JUST SO PRECIOUS OKAY? Trust me on this.

Huxley and his brothers, Axel and Fox are also what brother goals are made of. These three had an incredible dynamic too. I love the different personalities and banter that made up their daily conversations. They all kind of grew up (even though everyone is in their late 20s and 30s) as they started to take care of each other. Huxley as big brother never got a chance to take a breath and his brothers (plus Beatrice) helped him step back and enjoy the finer moments of life.

The only reason I took off a half a star was a personal preference. I didn’t love that there was a whole chapter and a half dedicated to the sex scene. It was a bit much and a bit too detailed for me. It’s easily skipped over though so if this also isn’t your scene I promise the rest of the book is gold.

I liked the plot of this as well. It was different than other rom-coms I’ve read before. I felt there was a bit more at stake and it upped the drama overall. It never over took the romance, but wove seamlessly with it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kissing, make outs, flirting, innuendo, Chapter 23 & beginning of Chapter 24: detailed love scene; Chapter 30: fade to black with a little detail
  • Violence: physical, being held at gun point
  • Trigger warnings: gambling addiction, gambling in general

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Book Review

Book Review: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 512 pages
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: June 11th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed…

WHERE AM I?

That’s how I felt most of this book.

My biggest issue was the total lack of world building. I know this is a spin-off from a previous series of hers. I was told by multiple people that you don’t have to read it to be able to understand and enjoy this one. I agree up until the point that if the previous series has better world-building that would have been a major help here.

I finally gathered that it is some type of dystopia / fantasy universe. There were normal US cities, but we had magical powers and people who could transform into gargoyles, so somewhere between all of that is your world. Do I know why it is that way? NOPE, this book’s focus is the romance (not necessarily a bad thing), but since the everything else was sorely lacking, I couldn’t be as involved with the romance.

Though the romance is the part I did like best. I thought the flow between Zane and Trinity was great. It’s sort of slow, with a touch of animosity at first, that gives way to some tender moments. The love scene was kind of odd, but other than that, I ship them.

My other problem with this book was the immaturity of conversation. Using phrases like *douche nozzle* takes me out of the story and I’m clearly still not over that this word was used. The lingo annoyed me as well. Just the whole combination of conversations bothered me the entire time. I didn’t love Trinity as an MC. Never got on board with her.

The plot was focused around finding a lost friend…that was it. There were hints and nods towards some bigger focus, and I wish we had more of that. It made the story somewhat boring because of how intensely focused they were on this one thing. Whoever is really pulling the strings needs to come out of the word work so this book can liven up some more.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + romance
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, once love scene (with some description)
  • Violence: battles, physical, knives, swords, magical

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Book Review

Book Review: A Treacherous Curse (Veronica Speedwell #3) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery / Historical fiction
Length: 308 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Penguin Random House
Release Date: January 16th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1888. As colorful and unfettered as the butterflies she collects, Victorian adventuress Veronica Speedwell can’t resist the allure of an exotic mystery—particularly one involving her enigmatic colleague, Stoker.

His former expedition partner has vanished from an archaeological dig with a priceless diadem unearthed from the newly discovered tomb of an Egyptian princess. This disappearance is just the latest in a string of unfortunate events that have plagued the controversial expedition, and rumors abound that the curse of the vengeful princess has been unleashed as the shadowy figure of Anubis himself stalks the streets of London.

But the perils of an ancient curse are not the only challenges Veronica must face as sordid details and malevolent enemies emerge from Stoker’s past.

Caught in a tangle of conspiracies and threats—and thrust into the public eye by an enterprising new foe—Veronica must separate facts from fantasy to unravel a web of duplicity that threatens to cost Stoker everything. 

LONGEST SLOW-BURN EVER.

STILL NOTHING.

EVEN LESS NOTHING THAN THE FIRST TWO BOOKS. Ugh. It’s entirely annoying at this point. Only because you know where it’s going, and I don’t like that it’s been carried out this long. Veronica and Stoker are destined to be together and heaven help me if that doesn’t happen in book four.

Otherwise, this book was a bit meh. Definitely one of those middle of the series books that isn’t packing a lot of punch. I didn’t love the mystery because it was a stretch compared to the previous two books. And I really didn’t love the trigger warning (see notes at the bottom) for how the mystery ended. I think that could have been handled in a better way.

I did like that the mystery gave us allllllll the history for Stoker. I finally got all of the answers I was craving and the tidbits of information that formed a solid background for him. I met his terrible former wife and in-laws, and saw a whole new side to the mystery of what happened in South America. This only made my love for Stoker grow. I love that brash cinnamon roll.

Veronica was still her fabulous self. I love her heroism and strength in making her own decisions. I don’t love all of her philosophies, but I appreciate her determination to do things as she wants to.

Forever hoping to have that *realization moment* between Veronica and Stoker.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery / Historical fiction
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none, just a lot of innuendo
  • Violence: murder, physical
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse, Chapter 19: murder-suicide by a gun

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Book Review

Book Review: Heart of the Fae (The Otherworld #1) by Emma Hamm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance + Retelling
Length: 350 pages
Author: Emma Hamm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 26th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Beauty and the Beast meets Irish Mythology in this sweeping retelling of the beloved fairytale….

Once upon a time…

A plague sweeps across the emerald hills of Uí Néill, leaving a young midwife’s father with months to live. To save her people, Sorcha makes a deal with a dangerous Fae. She must travel across the sea, through merrow and kelpie lands, to find a forgotten king on a crumbling throne.

Born king of the Seelie Fae, Eamonn fought battles unnumbered to uphold honor, duty, and freedom… until his twin brother sank a blade between his shoulders. Crystals grew from the wound, splitting open skin and bone. His people banished him to a cursed isle for his disfigurement, now king of criminals and fools.

With the help of brownies, pixies, and will-o’-the-wisps, Sorcha battles to break through his crystalline shell and persuade him to take back his stolen throne.

This determined beauty could come dangerously close to stealing his beastly heart. 

A GREAT RETELLING.

I definitely think this is one of the better retellings of Beauty and the Beast that I’ve read.

This really followed the flow of B&TB. I could definitely tell what scenes were being recreated and the plot line it was going for. I enjoyed this take on it because of that fact. I liked seeing how someone else interpreted the story (and adding fae is ALWAYS good). This was full of faeries and the romance was kicked up to a much steamier vibe.

The romance felt a *tiny* bit insta-love at first. It came off as mostly lust and I was worried how that was going to affect the story. Never fear, the way that Sorcha and Eamonn built their relationship after some initial contact was fantastic. I loved the enemies to lovers type banter, the slow tender moments they had, that all led to a partnership that I ship.

Sorcha as a character was amazing. Her role as a healer gave focus to her decisions and mindset. I liked how firm she was on HER choices and that she never gave up on her original intentions for seeking out the fae. There was no wishy-washy character here. Sorcha was a lovely and strong heroine.

Eamonn was the beast. And that sentence is wholly accurate. His role was exactly how I expected it and I LOVED seeing the small things he started doing for Sorcha purely to make her happy. Ohhhhh so cute y’all.

The story itself was well put together and I thought the plot had everything it needed. There was a point and reasoning behind choices and I never had to ask why. I love the way the fae were woven into everything and I love all things faerie in general.

I’m definitely interested in continuing this duology (and the other books in this universe). This was a self-published book and I LOVE finding these kind of gems.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance + retelling
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, make outs, one moderately detailed love scene
  • Violence: physical, magic, skirmishes with swords, a creepy blood beetle epidemic

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Book Review

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini (Stalking Jack the Ripper #3) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical fiction + Mystery
Length: 437 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Expected Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea.

It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?

THOMAS CRESSWELL DESERVES BETTER.

BETTER BETTER BETTER. Oh my goodness. Usually I give a book higher marks for making me feel intense feelings for all the things. In this case, the intense feeling was rage, so instead I marked it lower.

HOW DARE AUDREY ROSE WADSWORTH. This was cheating and I will stand by that firmly. I’m tired of seeing this as a plot device and it makes me upset every time.

Something kind of funny though? If this was a different story without a boyfriend and the girl was having this kind of flirtations and kisses with a magician with a mask? Yes. I would have loved the banter and the set-up of that. BUT IT’S THOMAS FREAKING CRESSWELL. WHAT.

Wow, I can’t get over this. My review is running away from me. It was the entire plot which is why it’s very much on my mind. Other than that, the plot consisted of the same as the previous two books. People die, Thomas & Audrey Rose try to find the murderer. Nothing new. It’s a kin to watching CSI (or something similar) where the same show essentially happens every time but you can’t look away. This is how I felt.

I love my boy Thomas though. And I missed him this book! Since Audrey Rose and her shenanigans took up most of the page time, I felt he was barely on screen. There wasn’t much banter between them, mostly angst and angry words.

This was honestly a big letdown for the entire series. I am curious how Capturing the Devil will play out because I’ve seen very mixed reviews.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + mystery
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: physical, a lot of murder (by knives, hangings, animal attacks)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating

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Book Review

Book Review: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of the Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA fantasy + romance
Length: 392 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

THE MASH-UP I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED.

Ohhhhh I’m so happy I picked up this debut! Mulan? Project Runway? TOGETHER?

IT WORKED SO WELL. I got all of the Mulan vibes (my favorite Disney movie, by the way) from Maia’s actions and decisions. Then add in the competition to be the best tailor where there were even unconventional materials challenges?! Yessssss. The vibes this book gave off alone gave it a star. This was exactly what the synopsis gave me.

Maia and Edan were absolutely precious too. I had seen on multiple reviews that the banter is on point, and I’m here to put my vote in that THEY’RE RIGHT. It’s witty, sassy, and so stinkin’ cute. I really liked the way their relationship developed. I was surprised by a few bits of information about Edan that reminded me of other books and I was cool with it. I liked those additions and thought it gave another layer to who Edan is.

The adventure that these two went on was magical and enchanting. I was surprised that this was able to take only one book. I think it could have expanded into more if it wanted and still been captivating. Since this plot kind of wrapped up I’m curious where the next story will take us.

This is one of those typical YA fantasy books that WORKS. It’s why I love and read the genre regularly. The writing is delightful, the romance is on point, and the story is full of magic. I loved the world-building and the way the magic is set-up. Maia is such an easy character to love. I appreciate her loyalty to her family and how everything circles back to them. She’s brave, but also able to accept help. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, make-outs, one or two fade to black, barely any detail love scenes
  • Violence: magic, fire, physical, arrows

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Book Review

Book Review: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 592 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: June 9th, 2009
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn’t like his job, and the immortal who’s still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. 

Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren’s capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.

By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery; and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

BOOK TWO COMES OUT WHEN?

Note: I listened to this on Audible (not an ad, just an FYI). It was narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan. Unfortunately, I didn’t love her. She did the female voices totally fine, but it with trying to do the male voices that was iffy.

This book did take me a little to get into (though, I’m learning that might be the case anytime I listen to an audio book). It has a SUPER complicated magic system that took me a minute to figure out. Once I did, everything was fine and things made sense. And now I’d love color-changing hair, k thanks universe.

I absolutely adored all of these characters. Even the evil ones. They were somehow lovable (for at least a time) and I enjoyed everyone’s personality. Vivenna seriously had the worst time and I felt so bad for her! She got the short end of the stick every. single. time. Til about the end. But I’m really feeling her vibe with Vasher, so YES. SOMEONE GIVE ME THE SEQUEL.

Siri was a bit frustrating, but I did appreciate that she didn’t take anything lying down. Not letting the God King, Susebron, frighten her (or any of the priests). Y’all, I loved Susebron. This precious King, DIDN’T KNOW WHAT SEX WAS. And I burst out laughing. That might be the best little nugget in a book I’ve read in awhile. Their relationship progressed in the sweetest way. You could really see them fall in love and when Susebron really shows his godliness, you could hear me clapping outside. YOU TELL ‘EM GOD KING.

Can we give a shoutout to Lightsong? I should have seen his purpose from a mile away, but didn’t realize it til after it happened *whoops*. I thought he was a great comic relief type of character and really gave some humanity to the gods.

Sanderson yet again weave this crazy beautiful tale filled with world-building and long planned story lines. The last few chapters are always the best part because you can’t help but be like ooooooh over and over as it all falls into place. I love his writing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Epic fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, an implied love scene
  • Violence: knives, poison, torture, war

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