The Blood of Whisperers (The Vengeance Trilogy #1) by Devin Madson

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Oh. My. God! This one is definitely getting on my top books for the ’18 list! Even if it was published quite a long ago, it was read by yours truly recently and boy did I love it!

In the first book of what promises to be a spectacular trilogy, we see a story from three different perspectives. One from a young boy, one from an older girl, and one from an estimed noble with quite the dark secrets. All three of them are magnificent, full of suspense, political intrigue, and soooo much betrayal, it could put that HBO series we all know thanks to over-advertising (yes, you all know which one I’m talking about) to shame!

And Devin Madson did that without cheap tricks and way too much show of cleavage – and other naked parts – or gore. She presented her story in such an artistic way, one that old anime fans and rpg players can really appreciate. It was like an oriental DnD campaign, with all the plot twists and mishaps, coming to life on the pages, and I just couldn’t get enough! I know it took me a while to review this, but trust me, if it wasn’t for my OCD tendencies and the full review list, I would have done it aaaaages ago!

One can only wonder what’s in store for our heroes and what kind of new alliances will be created and/or broken in the next book. I certainly can’t wait to find out, and I recommend this to anyone seeking a story that combines western and eastern characteristics, and an action-suspense-packed plot that doesn’t disappoint whatsoever!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

5cupcakes

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Daemon Uprising (Daemon #1) by Mariah Ankenman

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Five brilliant cupcakes and oh boy! I wish I could give this one more, but there’s only so much a rating can do!

It took me a while to review this – don’t you hate when your offline life gets in the way of completing online stuff? – but I finally made some time. Because this story totally deserves it!

Daemons are a threat much too real for humanity. Divided between those who help humans, the Euadaemons, and those who wish to destroy it, the Kakodaemons, they fight each other in a struggle of power. The Euadaemons even have humans helping them in their cause, people who hide some amazing talents of their own. One of these people is Tabitha. Hiding her skills is much too difficult already, and yet she has to up her game even more when she’s paired up with Kiernan, an Euadaemon who’s hell bent on sleeping with her. Can she pull it off enough for this mission to end and get rid of this insufferably sexy man?

This whole book was freaking awesome! It combines paranormal with contemporary and hot romance just perfectly. The pace was fast and slow, fast and slow, alternating to allow you to take big gulps of each in every dose, and the tension between the characters just about killed me. Not to mention how much I wanted to straight up lick that gorgeous, hilarious hunk-of-a-man, Kiernan!


The only downside to all this was Tabitha herself. I understand where she comes from, given her past it was hard to trust Kiernan’s kind, but come on, woman! You work with those guys, and Kiernan himself never gave you one single reason to be so hostile towards him. And let’s not forget that she was so persistent in doing things her way, she nearly ended up dooming them all – most of all, herself – when she pulled that stupid stunt near the end of the book and revealed what she really was to the ones she was after.

Still, I don’t think the rating should go down for her – I will not let her ruin this for me. And I will certainly try out any other books from this series, because there is a good handful of people I wish to see find their Tira, as the book’s universe called them, and I’m not stopping till it happens!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

5cupcakes

Angel Down (Heart on the Run #1) by Lois Greiman

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There is a fine balance between romance and action when it comes to books that combine them both. It’s usually tough to get it right, and more often than not one overpowers the other – unfortunately, this is what went wrong with this story (well, that and something else, keep on reading).

Gabriel Durrand has lost a man who was in a covert mission in Columbia. Now, he wishes to find him and bring him home, and he needs Eddy Edwards to help him on that. The last thing he expected and needed was for this Eddy person to turn out a woman! One that is very proud, skillful, and yet still very noticeably female. Finding Shepherd will turn out a lot harder than he initially thought…

OK, first, I liked the whole misunderstanding with Eddy’s name. I also enjoy tough heroines a lot – although I have to say, trying so hard to prove themselves sometimes gets old nowadays. Still, she was someone a modern female reader could relate with, especially someone who tried working in an all-male environment – been there, done that, and decided it wasn’t worth the effort or the possible suicidal thoughts. So I salute her for keeping up with it all and becoming what she became in the end of the book – character growth did wonders for her.


I also found it nice that the happy romantic ending didn’t come all too easily when the story came to a close. And yes, the action helped a lot in there, too.

BUT!

The romance could have used a bit more… depth, I guess? It was hard to get into the whole thing with so much going on with the story at once. And that would have been fine, but we’re talking about a book that has the romance genre in its main focus as well. See what I’m trying to say? It has been proven that the fine balance I talked about in the beginning of my review CAN be achieved, so I can’t really say ‘oh, well, it’s just impossible to happen’.

Still, what really peeved me to no end, what made me hate reading after a certain page, was Linus. Seriously, I’ve seen bimbos and nagging main heroines being more thankful than that god damn man! You’re being rescued, you stupid horndog! Forget about a woman who has done everything else other than yell it from the rooftops that she’s betraying and using you, and be a good rescue victim, grateful for your comrade who risked his ass, his reputation, and everything else in between, to come take you out of that hellhole you ended up in!


As it stood, the story was a solid 4-cupcake maybe in the beginning. But the minute Linus freaking Shepherd started actively talking while being captured, the rating started dropping. Dramatically! Turns out, it is possible for a character to make me do that, huh….

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

2cupcakes

The Wolves of Fenrir Box Set (Wolves of Fenrir) by Sela Carsen

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Honestly, one of the best book bundles I’ve stumbled upon in a while. Alien werewolves and sci-fi, mixed up in a delicious packet!

The series is about an alien race descending from Vikings – who are also werewolves! The Fenrir Wolves – as they call themselves – are great warriors, proud and filled with morals and honor, keeping their beasts in check – unless it’s time to fight something. Then all hell breaks loose! Through each of the books we witness several key members of their race finding love and a new purpose in life, as they struggle to protect their fellow neighbors, the humans of Earth, from hostile alien races wishing to wipe humankind from existence – or worse.

Though each story was short, I found that to be acceptable and enjoyed the books even more so. That was because, with this being a boxed set, it was easier to breeze through each couple without too much going on every time. And with the variety of characters it wasn’t difficult to get engaged with the plot and them. More than that, the action was never absent, nor was the suspense and the fast pace. On top of it all, the stories were linked, so it was really like following the same line, but with different focuses each time.

And the love scenes were supreme! With just enough sexual tension between them, and the adrenaline of the ever-present danger, the protagonists gave a spectacular intimate performance on the pages. Witty lines were never away from each dialogue, and each main male and female came with their own specific skill sets, but all of them were the same on one matter: they were strong in heart and mind, stubborn, and had depth in personalities. My personal favorite couple was Niall and Dagny – it was really beautiful to see second-chances existing even for a pair that seemed to have been past their youthly prime (and I’m a sucker for scarred, broken characters, so double bonus for Niall being as amazing as he was in the matter).

I really liked the potential Mrs. Carsen showed in this series. I can’t wait to read more of her books!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

5cupcakes

Private Affair (Rockfort Security #3) by Rebecca York

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A nice ending for quite a nice series.

With both of his partners settling down, Max Lyon seems the only reasonable choice when Olivia Winters, a famous model who coincidentally went to the same school as him, needs somebody to protect her without attracting attention – in other words, a bodyguard acting as her lover. But Olivia is not just in need of protection. Max’s PI skill set will certainly be appreciated, as they both race against their past hunting them down – and a killer dead set on either silencing the model, or making her his.

While Olivia was not exactly my cup of tea as a heroine, and Max was… well, just OK in my book, I did enjoy their teamwork and the chemistry between them. Individually, they didn’t really get my attention, yet together the concept seemed to work rather nicely. I loved how, despite the tension between them, there was still that air of familiarity. And the fact that they had a moment, even fleeting, in their teenage years, made it all better.

The Big Baddie wasn’t that much of a surprise, unfortunately, and the scene between him and the captured Olivia left me with a bitter aftertaste – mainly because, psychologically, the aftermath just didn’t make sense – but the pace was fast enough to forgive all that. And the dialogues and action all made up for it.

And so, the Rockfort Security series came to a close – a rather satisfying one, even. Bravo, Mrs. York!

The Angel’s Hunger (Masters of Maria #2) by Holley Trent

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First review of the year, woohoo! And it’s a positive one, so here’s to hoping that it’s a good omen!

Remember when, in the last book, I had mentioned how much I loved the angle with the angels? Well, Tamatsu’s story did NOT disappoint me! It was all I hoped for and sooo much more! Here we have a classic example of a past romance gone wrong, but with a tremendous twist: Tamatsu and Noelle, the mute fallen angel and his elf ex-lover who is responsible for his current… speechless state, do not, under any circumstances, want to get back together. Yet, they both have something each other wants, so they’re wiling, for a little while at least, to call it a truce, get what they’re wishing for, and then go their separate ways. Only, life doesn’t always happen the way we expect it to…

This wasn’t your usual ex-lover-themed story. Unlike Tito and December, Tamatsu and Noelle knew they were bad for each other. They didn’t dance around the subject, they didn’t deny their sexual attraction still being there, but they had other priorities and they both admitted to still being bitter about their break-up, no matter how long ago it happened. It was both satisfying and hilarious seeing them try to resist each other once they realized they were being sucked back into being totally smitten with each other.

The whole tragedy of Tamatsu doing something that angered Noelle enough to curse him was what kept the story so high in suspense. At first, I couldn’t help but be on her side given what she was saying about the way she found him with… Well, spoilers! No more words! But let’s just say, I completely supported her decision. Then, I heard Tamatsu’s side of the story, and I was like “OK, no girl, you should have checked first!” – though I was still a bit suspicious about it all because it didn’t add up, and if it was, one of them was lying, and I couldn’t figure out who. And when the final curtain was lifted, and they both sat down to talk it out, and the truth was revealed… I was laughing. Hysterically. Like a maniac! Because the whole thing was just soooo extraordinarily simple, and they had both suffered for decades on end, just because they had both jumped to assumptions. It felt so humane and realistic, I couldn’t blame either of them, and it only served in making me love them more.

The love scenes were… INTENSE! Tito the demigod WHO?! Pssst, get out of the way, dude, Tamatsu has the stage covered, thank you very much! Oh, boy, I kept fanning myself because the guy was smoldering hot without even trying, and when he did decide to try, it nearly scorched the panties clean off of me! Not to mention, Noelle was on a whole different level than December! Now THAT is a heroine I can side and relate with!

The ending was also unexpected, and yet very much welcome. I preferred it to the usual solution most writers have in such cases with curses and stuff, because it showed that, despite their relationship not being perfect, those two were willing to try and work things out together, as a team, this time around. It made them that much more depended on each other, and, given the lengths in which Noelle was willing to go to pay for her mistake and redeem herself in Tamatsu’s eyes, that sheer amount of self-sacrifice to give him his voice back, it was really beautiful – and Tamatsu’s response was even more touching!

I’m off to read the next book in the series – but I’m serious here, can’t we please have that goddess-angel ship we’ve been dreaming about, Ms. Trent?! Pretty pleaaaaase?!?!?!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

 

RATING:

5cupcakes

Book Boyfriends and Books of ’17

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It’s that time of the year again – even belatedly for me this year around! The time where I try and think which books I read the year that passed really moved me as a reader. And of course, a reader’s life can never be complete without her book boyfriends – well, at least a reader who enjoys romance.

So, let’s see… The books that really made an impression on me – and mind you, some of those authors you’ve seen me praising countless times but it’s just how it is for me, I’m a loyal fangirl – in no particular order are:

  • Against the Sky (The Brodies of Alaska #2) by Kat Martin
  • The Angel’s Hunger (Masters of Maria #2) by Holley Trent (review is soon to be posted for this one, I’ve been neglectful in my duties, I know!)
  • Finding the Dream (Dream Trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts
  • The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
  • Sins of the Heart (The Sins Series #1) by Eve Langlais
  • Curse of the Healer (The Derbfine Series #1) by Ashley York
  • Legacy of Lies (Hell’s Valley #1) & Legacy Lost (Hell’s Valley #2) by Jillian David
  • Locke and Key (Titan #8) by Cristin Harber

 

And now it’s time for the male leads that made it to this year’s Book Boyfriend List! A little sidenote here, the books of a couple of those haven’t made it in the ’17 Books List, either because something else in their story might have not captured me enough as a reader – but those characters did – or because I hadn’t finished the book before the year changed its final number – ooops!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

  • Nick Brodie (Against the Sky)
  • Michael Fury (Finding the Dream)
  • Niall sidKalvr (Silver Wolf Rising)
  • Oz Bolton (Speaker of the Lost)
  • Cam Maxwell (Archangel Series – OK, in all honesty, I haven’t read HIS book yet, but he was in both the first books, and I’m a woman who knows what she wants and I knew it was him the moment he made his opened his mouth!)
  • Locke Oliver (Locke and KeyWON’T YOU LOOK AT THAT, I FINALLY FOUND MY TITAN MAN!)

So… that’s all, folks! Here’s to hoping the new year will be a good one – and bring us lots and lots of good stuff to read, because life without books is simply not acceptably lived! Happy New Year, everybody!

~Lydia~

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Finding the Dream (Dream Trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts

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Finding the Dream (Dream trilogy #3)

“I loved you. And the only thing more pitiful than that is that even as you turn me away like this, so carelessly, I still do.” – Laura Templeton

Fucking finally!!!! Laura’s story!!! Oh, I was sooooo waiting for this!!!

We’ve read about Laura Templeton and her failure of a married life in the previous books. In the first book, she found out about her neglecting, over-controlling husband cheating on her. In the second, we saw her struggling to move on with her life, having to deal with the aftermath of her marriage on her immediate family and a new job. In this one, we finally get to witness karma giving back to her what she really deserved – love and respect, a man capable of making her see that she’s a desirable woman with actual value, not a faceless doll with a big fat dowry. But said man, Michael Fury, is not exactly what she had in mind when she once dreamed of her Prince Charming…

I seriously loved this book the most, even if Kate is still my favorite of the trio. It was full of heartbreaking moments, and there were many times I had to dab my wet eyes with tissues. Not only because some scenes were really too sad to read, but also because there were some others in which the characters – particularly Michael in his interractions with Laura’s daughters – brought me to tears with their kindness and touching speeches. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful book of the trilogy.


Laura was a character I found wonderful. Her inner, quiet power, how she was steadfast and could actually stand her ground, but without being aggressive or petty, her noble nature, it was far too different from her hot-headed friends. And seeing her struggle with her kids after that nasty divorce, and how she tried to get back her sense of self after YEARS of mental abuse from her ex, made me remember that not all women need to start kicking asses and making scenes in public, or think like men, to be truly strong and powerful. I also loved the fact that, when things got rough with Michael, she didn’t bitch, instead she was really mature about it.

Michael was THE delight to read about, though. First of all, he made it to my Book Boyfriend List of ’17 – THE MOMENT HE ENTERED THE BOOK. He was funny and sarcastic and hot, and if you know me and my kryptonite, you have surely heard of the way I practically melt when a guy is good with kids. And Michael wasn’t just good with Laura’s kids – he was more of a father than their own father had ever been! The way he could put them in their place, and yet he melted with every hug or cute words of theirs, the way he would put them first in his priority list, even if he had nothing to gain from it and they weren’t HIS kids to worry about – the guy is perfect!


Not that Laura’s family could see it. And here’s what bugged me throughout all the book – though not enough that I would lower its rating. Every single soul near Laura, with a few exceptions, had something to say against the poor man. Her parents, her brother, Margo’s mother… The only ones who had no problem with it were Kate and Byron (OF COURSE!), Margo (though she doesn’t count, she was just thinking only of the sexual benefits Laura could get out of this), and the cook.

And while I do get the parental reaction, I couldn’t help but hate Josh (even more if that was even possible!) and Annie! First and foremost, Annie was so adamant in her initial opinion of Michael, based entirely on false rumors and gossip, that she didn’t even THINK of crossing out those facts with what was right there in front of her eyes, even if she was given plenty of proof from Michael’s behavior. The guy would breathe in a way she found unacceptable and she would judge him for it, as well! And Josh was history’s WORST best friend! I wouldn’t want to have this guy in my corner, ever – not even if you paid me for it! What kind of person critisizes his best friend for things he has also done in his life, and, when seeing him with his sister, suddenly forgets that said best friend is actually a decent man and turns on him, saying those spiteful things in his face? I mean, couldn’t he see how much Michael was hurting with all this? His face was practically screaming it, damn it! I don’t know how Michael forgave the bastard, honestly – I would have never done that! (which also says much about his kindness, once again!)


And suddenly, when the poor dude nearly dies to save Laura, everyone sees that he was actually the perfect guy for her. WHAT THE QUIZNAK?!?! What is wrong with those people?!!? Does someone need to go meet their maker early for them to deem them worthy?!

Even with those people ruining the beautiful scenes of the book, though, I couldn’t help but love it. It was exactly what this trilogy needed to come to an end, and for the reader to get closure with this story, and move on to other series. 

RATING:

5cupcakes

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

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How many times must Patricia McKillip blow my mind with her books? And who decides when a certain kind of storystelling is out of date or not? Because, let me tell you, whoever thinks that McKillip’s “voice” is old-fashioned and cannot keep up with modern readers, is terribly wrong!

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a book filled with the classic storytelling of the woman I consider the mother of fantasy. Sybel, a young girl gifted with the magical powers to call powerful beasts to come to her aid, finds her life turned upside down when a young soldier comes knocking on her door, asking her to take care of a baby – the son of a king. Uknowingly, she gets dragged in the middle of a war between kingdoms, and men fighting for her heart – but the woman with the garden full of legendary creatures, is not a woman with a heart easily won…

I seriously loved this story. Even if Sybel was tough to connect with as a main character, her past was such that it explained a lot about her behavior. Not only that, but what Tam’s father did to her was, in my eyes, a great allegory for rape – the total lack of control of her body and willpower, the feeling of being stuck in a place where she would never be able to return from, truly amazing how McKillip phrased it all – and it was only natural for her to turn even colder and seek revenge in a way that would make kingdoms tremble. I loved how she struggled with coming to terms with her feelings for Tam’s uncle, and how, in the end, she didn’t change her flawed way of thinking, only promised to try and ask for forgiveness – stating, even, that she needed her husband’s forgiveness mainly because this way, she might one day forgive herself.

McKillip is a queen when it comes to subtly charging plot twists. She just writes along, telling you a nice story that sounds so wonderfully like a fairy tale – thanks to her voice – and then BAM! The plot twist comes up, shaking you to the core, and you’re just faced with the fact that she had it coming your way all along, she just made you focus on other things more to bide her time.

I’m in love with her writing, no matter which book I read, and I can’t wait to read more of her work!

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

5cupcakes

Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello

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Although having higher expectations for this book, I wasn’t overly disappointed – not that I would pick up the next title or something, but it didn’t have me wishing to leave it at DNF state…

Young Prince Gavin wishes for nothing more than to grow up quickly and become a knight like the rest of his royal family. So does his friend, Bryan, a blacksmith apprentice. So when an old man they both consider dear gets accused of having stolen a jewel very important for Gavin’s kingdom, they enlist the help of their other friend, Phillip, and rush to help prove the man innocent. But the adventure they find themselves into might prove much harder than they originally thought…

Honestly, there were some parts I found fine thanks to the plot twists and some others I could have done without. It;s a good thing that the pace was fast and the story short, so it didn’t take me too long to finish the book. If I had been some years younger, I would have immensely enjoyed it. So, if we’re talking about middle grade, this is a perfect book. However, it doesn’t fall in that category of middle grade fantasy that adults could enjoy as well.

That being said, I’m not into finding out the rest of Gavin’s life – even with the new member added to the royal family, which was a total shocker, if you ask me.

***I was given an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***

RATING:

2cupcakes