Book Review

Book Review: Always Only You (Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 366 pages
Author: Chloe Liese
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 25th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Get ready for an emotional ride filled with laughter, longing, and a sweet slow-burn in this sports romance about love’s power not in spite of difference, but because of it.

Ren

The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.

I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie

I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.

Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

*This is an #OwnVoices story for its portrayal of autism by an autistic author.

THIS WAS AMAZING.

My new favorite hockey romance.

This grump and sunshine trope was everrrrrything. They were absolutely adorable. Such amazing chemistry that I was for them from the get-go. I love the way that the attraction and angst is written. It’s an immediate connection, but has the perfect build-up that it doesn’t feel instant. It feels natural and real and brimming with all of feels.

The representation was wonderful. Frankie is on the autism spectrum and has rheumatoid arthritis. I love how she was written. That she wasn’t any less capable of accomplishing the things she wants to. Frankie is exactly who she is and I love that she learned to love herself and learned to let Ren love her too.

There were many great conversations with other characters that helped broaden my understanding of chronic illness and those who are on the spectrum. This is the importance of Own Voices books and the knowledge that can come from reading them while enjoying a beautiful story.

Ren was the best cinnamon roll. I love that he was the sunshine (since it’s usually the female that’s the sunshine). Wow did he bring it all. His commitment and passion for the areas of his life made me swoon. I loved his soul. He’s a nerdy Shakespeare lover, a REDHEAD and absolutely smitten with all things Frankie.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary sports romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis), chronic pain
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: Essence (The Essence Chronicles #1) by Hayley Gabrielle

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 406 pages
Author: Hayley Gabrielle
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: June 22nd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

When Abbey Shader is summoned to Ethra, a land where human qualities roam free in flesh known as Essences, her life and the universe as she knows it splits open before her.
With the expansive secrets of humanity at her fingertips, Abbey’s strength of will and heart are put to a test no amount of time or meticulous study could have prepared her for.
Left to decide between the comfort of the familiar and the potential enlightenment of the strange, Abbey is thrust into a journey that demands more of her at every turn. She must learn to trust what she sees, and trust what she can’t.

Essence marks the first installment of the young adult fantasy series, The Essence Chronicles. 

Thank you to the author for sending me a digital copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

AN INTERESTING CONCEPT.

This was interesting! I didn’t know quite what I would be getting into when I started this book. The author reached out and asked if I would like to review a copy and upon checking out Goodreads I accepted the offer because it did sound up my alley!

Do y’all remember the movie, Inside Out? With all of the girl’s emotions portrayed as actual creatures/people? THIS WAS THE BOOK FORM. The further I read and the more characters I met that embodied different essences, the more it reminded me of that movie. This isn’t a good or bad thing, I just saw the similarities. I rather enjoyed having characters completely polarized in their personalities. It made for fun conversation and some solid banter. Combining Joy, Pride, Good, Honesty, and Pessimism (the ones we met in this book) was a squad to watch.

Abbey grew on me over the book. At first I was shaky with her. But what I appreciated was that she didn’t run off and agree with everything everyone was trying to tell her. I hate when characters don’t question what the heck just happened and loved that Abbey asked all the questions. It gave her time to understand and slowly grasp what was happening around her.

The love story with Zac is cute! Even though it was over a shorter period of time it didn’t feel rushed. There’s still a lot of feelings to convey and bonds to form. I liked watching them interact and learn more about each other. Zac is charming and has a deep background that I want to know more about.

As far as magic systems go, this one was rather confusing. I felt as frustrated as Abbey sometimes trying to understand the Earth, erodosphere and Ethra interactions. Then throw on top the Melder, and the Breathing and it left me all sorts of flipped around. The more I read, the clearer everything became and I’m happy that by the end I better understood what was everything meant.

At times this book read more like a prequel. Not a lot honestly happened. Abbey and the crew around her went on an adventure to meet the Overseer who brought Abbey to Ethra in the first place. That scene lasted a whole 2 pages. Instead, we really created a background for the lands and an understanding of how Ethra works in conjunction with Earth. While I wished it had a bit more substance, I’m still really interested in book two. I always found myself wanting to pick up my Kindle to keep reading this and am curious where Abbey will take us next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some minor language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: knives, animal attacks, not super gory, but moderately descriptive

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