Book Review

Book Review: Veins of Magic (The Otherworld #2) by Emma Hamm

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy retelling + romance
Length: 350 pages
Author: Emma Hamm
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: December 19th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The conclusion of Heart of the Fae, where Beauty and the Beast meets Irish Mythology.

Once upon a time…

Heartache dogs the steps of Sorcha of Ui Neill. Although she is home with her family, she is unable to shake the memories of her time in Hy-brasil. She heals with a heavy heart, tells stories with melancholy words, and cannot forget the magic of the Otherworld. When an opportunity arises to return to her beloved Fae Prince, she makes a questionable deal. Dark magic, druidic curses, and a witch open a portal and send her tumbling into the middle of a war she must end for the sake of all who dwell in the Otherworld.

Saving the faeries will not be easy when she has become a woman they fear.

The once banished king battles his way through the Otherworld, freeing the Lesser Fae with each swing of his sword. Each attack turns Eamonn into something far more beastly than before. Geodes multiply and hinder his movements, harden his heart, and crystalize his resolve.

Together, they face the King of the Seelie Fae and his golden army to end the war that will change the fate of the Otherworld forever.

SUCH A GOOD RETELLING.

Oh what a magical and great ending to this duology. A great retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I love seeing the parallels between the two of them. This of course added a lot more to it and made the story adult (in a good way).

I absolutely loved Sorcha. LOVED HER. She was so brave and courageous. Bold and brash. Didn’t take anything from Eamonn and I absolutely was all for how she handled each situation that came her way. Sorcha always knew what she wanted and who she loved. She really held this book. Though, for real, I LOVE Eamonn too. I loved the way that he acknowledged his mistakes. How much he truly loved Sorcha and actually listened to her. What a power couple they were! Long may they reign.

This book dove much deeper into the backgrounds of the fae life and the stories behind why Eamonn and his brother were in the tides of war against one another. It really made the conflict stand out and made this book more a larger impact.

There were definitely a couple of heart stopping moments where I actually didn’t know how it was going to end. It kept me on my toes and the action moments balanced well with the romance and tenderness between Eamonn and Sorcha. I can’t wait to read the other books in this universe!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy romance retelling
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few mildly detailed love scenes
  • Violence: battles, swords, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
Length: 507 pages
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rose has always been different.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.

So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees.

Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose–and realizes her journey has only just begun.

REALLY WHIMSICAL.

This book screamed a very whimsy fantasy. A simple and sweet retelling of a Nordic fairytale. I’ve seen that a lot of people mention that they read this as a child (where have I been??) and I’m grateful that I’ve had a chance to read this now! I definitely can’t wait to pick up the next book.

I love how fast this was to read. It was written in multi-POV chapters that were usually on the shorter side. It made for fast flipping where you couldn’t even tell that it’s an almost 500 page read. I never felt like things were left about with the constant switching of characters. It really rounded out the three areas of this tale and made it all the more magical.

The romance between the bear [obviously he doesn’t stay that way], and Rose was incredibly sweet. The bonds they grew by having to communicate in unique ways had just the right flair of romanticism. I like that it never came off like it was overtaking the story and rather wove into Rose’s sense of adventure.

Rose was full of wanderlust and a desire to right her accidental wrongs. I loved her spirit and vibrancy. The way she helped her family and the polar bear had me cheering her on. She was an easy character to love.

All of the characters were well developed and multi-layered. I even found myself sympathetic to the villain. I love the way the conclusion wrapped up and gave the ending a happily every after AND a bittersweet moment as well. This book was magical and fantastical. And appropriate for the younger YA audience as well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: nothing intensely graphic or gory

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Book Review

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: New adult contemporary romance
Length: 306 pages
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: March 10th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Auburn Reed is determined to rebuild her shattered life and she has no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to become deeply attracted to the studio’s enigmatic artist, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a chance and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is hiding a huge secret. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything Auburn loves most, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it—but can she do it?

COHO FOREVER.

I can’t think of a book by Colleen Hoover that doesn’t leave me emotionally distraught but also handing out 5 stars like it’s a meteor shower. I LOVE HER BOOKS. This a back list title of hers I happened to see at a used bookstore and I snatched it so fast and read it even quicker.

The way this romance is written in short time period, and yet feels like the best slow burn makes this book. I love being taken on a journey with these characters and feeling the intensity of their choices and situations.

I can never imagine how more tragic these stories can get until it happens. And yet, it never feels dramatic. There’s such a sense of real life and knowing these characters that make me love this story. Everything feels authentic and honest and I mesmerizingly read this in one sitting because I needed Auburn to have a happy ending at last.

Owen is another enigmatic and swoon worthy romantic interest. He’s filled with such longing for his own happy ending and struggling to cope with his own past. Auburn was intensely brave and an incredibly strong woman. Their connection and drive on their own was amazing, put them together and it’s dynamite.

I feel like I’m struggling to put this review into something fully legible. I JUST LOVE COHO BOOKS. The power and rawness of each story captures me and forces me to think. The ability to create these situations and not make it feel cheesy is the reason I love to read her books. This was another winner.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: throughout
  • Romance: a mildly detailed scene, a FTB scene
  • Violence: discussion of car wreck
  • Trigger warnings: arrest for possession, pain pill addiction, an abusive relationship (physical, emotional, manipulative and sexual), attempted sexual assault

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 469 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This is the thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline.

An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.

WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

I’m picky with sci-fi reads. I have no idea why, it’s a tough genre for me to love. When I find gems hidden in the wood works I shout for joy. THIS IS ME SHOUTING YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

Audio note: Once again, a beautiful audio book. It was recommend to me to read them this way if possible and I’m grateful my library had them. The narration is fantastic, the voices are great, it’s an easy listen. Seriously love it.

Alright, the story. This is delightfully twisted. Filled with action and space battles. Biological warfare that makes me cringe. Politics between worlds that are shiver-inducing. Romance that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster. It’s all there. I love the combination and play-out of the characters and world.

There’s a character in here that as an audio book, no lie creeped me out. If I go into more detail I may spoil it. So know if you listen to the audio book the voice for this character is perfectly fear inducing (as it should be) for the lengths someone will go for those they love. Even when it’s not the choice that should be made. There’s a fine line that is toyed with throughout these books about what constitutes a soul. It’s thrilling and captivating to question such humanity.

I am still so here for this romance. It’s sweet and tender. Makes me swoon and has me shouting at the page. It’s a simple, light romance that fuels their choices and directives. I love how both Abel and Noemi know what they’re fighting for and refuse to give up on those ideals, BUT also refuse to give up on each other. It’s a team I want to cheer for and after that ending I better get my happily ever after ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / dystopia + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: space battles, guns, physical, sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: The Harvest (Call of the Sirens #1) by K.B. Benson

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Paranormal / Mythology
Length: 380 pages
Author: K.B. Benson
Publisher: Undaunted Publishing
Release Date: August 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Sometimes the most beautiful things grow in darkness.

Iris never expected to live her life trapped on land. Nor was she prepared for what she would find there. A siren isn’t supposed to fall in love with her prey.

When Jace moved to Santa Cruz, he never imagined he’d risk his life to protect a monster. He soon finds that ancient myth has become reality. And not every pretty face is what it seems.

After Iris sings her siren’s song to Jace — a hypnotic melody that leads men to death beneath the waves — both of their worlds are turned upside down. Will Iris give in to her bloodlust or will she turn her back on everything she’s ever known?

As the tide runs red with the blood of the Harvest, Iris must choose: save the life of the human boy she loves or sacrifice her chance at humanity forever.

STARTED OFF STRONG.

I wanted to love this more than I did, and it started off pretty strong. I was invested and loving the siren/mermaid vibes (because I’m always here for books about mermaids). This ended up feeling like younger YA trying to be a more mature YA.

The background and plot were interesting. I liked having Iris beached on land and forced to take care of her siren duties. It was a bit murderous and I did like that darker side to the plot. I actually got to see the siren’s in action rather than just hints of what’s happening below the surface.

Jace was definitely my favorite character. He felt natural in the story and was a high school boy in love. Jace and Iris together were pretty cute. I liked getting to follow their relationship [at first]. Where I struggled was with the random “dates” and tangents of them hanging out to make it feel like more was happening. I wish those interactions really held more sway to the overall plot rather than feeling frilly and unnecessary. I thought Jace and Iris had a good relationship overall. The way Jace was written was rather annoying, but in a good way. You could see his obsession with Iris begin to take over his life. I thought his POV chapters were great. Jace was clearly trying to maintain a level head as the pull of Iris and the ocean became stronger.

With all the time spent on trying to force me to love their relationship it really dragged out the story, and that’s where everything started to fall apart for me. This book is nearly 400 pages long, and I’d say 150 of those weren’t wholly necessary. I thought the book was well-written minus the pacing issues.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA paranormal contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses and an intense make-out
  • Violence: sirens attacking humans, drownings

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Book Review

Book Review: Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: October 3rd, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Hazel Gaynor has joined with Heather Webb to create this unforgettably romantic novel of the Great War.

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

I WANT TO TAKE UP LETTER WRITING NOW.

Oooooooh y’all.

A historical fiction romance written in letter format about World War 1.

That should be the only sentence you need because this was emotional and fantastic. I couldn’t put it down and because of the format it’s a VERY quick read. It appeared very well researched and this had me flipping pages faster than I could manage because I needed to know what happened next.

I love the way the love story was written. It was slow and steady and they fell in love over letter writing guys!! HOW ROMANTIC IS THAT? Both of them holding each other up as dark times flowed between them as the horrors of war took over. It was mesmerizing and I went into full panic mode trying to make sure their was a happy ending.

This had great Christmas vibes as they constantly dreamed of having Christmas in Paris together someday when the war was over. Definitely one of my Christmas favorites now. I love the backdrop of World War 1 because I feel that WW2 usually gets all of the historical fiction books/movies. I try to pick up anything that has a different setting because I love seeing authors takes on characters thrown into real history. It’s magical and enchanting and hits you right in the heart.

I feel as if I can gush more, but also can’t find the words because it was just a great book. And sometimes that’s the only sentence a review needs.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: description of war [namely WW1]
  • Trigger warnings: PTSD (described as war nervousness/neurosis because of the time period), depression, suicidal thoughts, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Faking Under the Mistletoe by Ashley Shepherd

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 327 pages
Author: Ashley Shepherd
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: November 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olivia Langley is the human embodiment of Christmas cheer, and she has absolutely no problem spreading it around for all to hear.

Christmas sweaters? She has twenty. Christmas cookies? She’ll take three dozen. Christmas movies? Yeah, she’s seen them all.

So it’s no surprise when she’s put in charge of Loveridge & McGowan’s holiday festivities. Secret Santas? Yep. Ice skating? Of course. Holiday trivia? Duh. Christmas-themed bar crawl? That’s one big jingle bell hell yes.

Kissing her boss at a Christmas tree lighting in front of his ex-girlfriend? Well… it is the season of giving.

And Olivia does not come with a gift receipt. No exchanges. No returns. No refunds. All sales are final.

In an effort to ungrinch the grinchiest man she’s ever met, Olivia enlists herself, Santa’s Executive Helper, to scheme up a plan that includes sleigh rides, snow days, and one too many mistletoe kisses, which certainly gets Asher’s tinsel in a tangle.

She’s pretty sure that she sleighed this whole fake dating thing.

Well… until she realizes there’s nothing fake about her feelings for Asher, and suddenly tangled tinsel, unsolicited Christmas trees, and celebrity heartthrobs are the least of her worries.

YAAAAAS TO THIS CHRISTMAS CONTEMPORARY.

Kindle unlimited, indie author, bookstagram recommendation FOR. THE. WIN.

No really. A grumpy guy, a effervescent woman, and Christmas? Hit this one out of the ballpark.

I love enemies to lovers and books like this remind me why. I love the juxtaposition between the two of them. The banter was fantastic and didn’t over step that line of actually being mean to each other. I was laughing to myself over some of the scenes in there because they were too humorous not too. This office romance (with a fake girlfriend component) was PRECIOUS.

Asher was such a charming Grinch. Can’t even handle him. He could throw out the sarcasm and grumpiness then turn around and be considerate and kind. I love seeing those layers peel away slowly as he opened up to Olivia.

Olivia had me laughing at her antics and I feel spiritually seen with how much she loves treats. Her extrovert, people pleasing personality that screamed Christmas was fantastic. She went on her own emotional journey [because of some awful people] that shed lighter on tough subject matter. Olivia was a strong heroine that I immensely enjoyed reading about.

This book was romantic and sweet. Full of emotions and tough moments. Love and charismatic characters. All the things. I can’t wait to read more of Shepherd’s books because this was exactly what I was looking for when I tried to find a contemporary Christmas romance.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [Christmas theme]
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, one little detailed almost scene, and another little detailed fade out scene
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault to the MC and mentions and discussions on the man’s behavior with others

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