The Legend of Jack Riddle by H. Easson

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The Legend of Jack Riddle

Quite honestly, a delight and true gem in the form of this brilliant story – and don’t worry about this being a book for kids. There is no age to enjoying a good tale, I tell you!

Jack is a normal boy, all in all. Like the kids his age nowadays, he’s obsessed with the social media and his phone. Technology is everything to him, and he can’t even begin to describe the horror of having to spend some time at the house of a distant relative named Gretel. But there’s more to the creepy woman than meets the eye – and Jack’s curiosity will lead him to revelations he might not be prepared for. Revelations that could possibly save his life – even if he’s about to be unwillingly turned into a fairy tale hero…

I loved this book! It’s clearly written for young readers, but the whole tale is wonderfully creepy. It was a joy to be scared at times when things would go awfully wrong, and the descriptions of certain scenes and locations did a fantastic job of keeping me on the edge of my seat and sending off freaky vibes. One thing I’ve learned about scary storytelling: if you mix it up with innocent, childlike things, it gets more than admirable results on setting the right mood. The carousel scene in the woods, the guardian that asked for dreams to let you pass, the cookie jar, they all helped in spooking me further and I couldn’t stop turning the pages! And the good guys not really being what we expected them to be? Pure gold!

Another thing I liked was how the book combined the classic fairy tale atmosphere with a protagonist that couldn’t care less for legends and fables. Jack was very much like the kids we know these days. Not only concerning their weird obsession with all things tech and the internet, missing out on so many things in life around them, but also being rude to their seniors and opportunistic. And while it may at first seem that such a hero is not what we’d want to help save the world, the adventures he goes through make him mature and see around him clearly and morally. It was the kind of character development that happened in stages and was much appreciated.

The story ends – of course – with a happy ending, as all fairy tales should. However, one interesting aspect is that of the WAY the happy ending occurred. In the end of the book, Hansel said something quite similar to what his sister said in the beginning. That could possibly indicate that it’s not exactly over yet – and it sets for a very nice, cliffhanger kind of method to tie the knot in this story.

I seriously hope to read more books in the future from H. Easson. Job well done, indeed!

***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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Diomere’s Exile (Gate Keeper Chronicles #1) by Sabrina A. Fish

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Diomere's Exile (Gate Keeper Chronicles, #1)

Most of the time, mythical creatures and love stories, combined with promising concepts and action, are totally my thing. I crave them, it’s plain and simple.

But such was not the case with this book.

Nadia, a mermaid sort-of-princess (?), is looking for her lost nephew. She feels she’s responsible for losing him in the first place, and when she finally finds a lead, she’s determined to get him back. But Gregor, a man who has sworn to protect the royal heirs – one of whom also happens to be Nadia’s nephew – is standing in her way. Together, they must overcome obstacles not only set by their different races, but also by those who wish to use the child for their own purposes…

I dare say, the concept was really nice. There’s the idea of five gates, magical ones, that are connected to five sisters – my guess is Nadia and her sisters. The baby also has some connection to it all, but I’m not gonna give any spoilers on the matter. Add to that the fact that mermaids are quite a rare sight in adult fiction these days, and you got yourselves a winner.

However, the characters felt a bit… flat, in my opinion. They had a lot of interesting features that could have been explored, but didn’t exactly make it for us to see. Nadia was too stubborn on some matters – namely, her being at fault for the abduction and then deciding for everyone else stuff – and that didn’t do justice to a heroine that could have been so much more. And Gregor was too conveniently fascinated with her kind – though that was his main flaw for me, otherwise the man was pretty much perfect!

My other main concern was the world history. There were parts that I felt were missing, and some things were taken for granted for a world we were trying to get a grasp on – all the while following the story between the characters and the plot developments. At one point I just stopped trying to make sense of it, and it was like having them on a blank canvas – at least it was easier for me to focus on them that way…

I’m not sure whether I should love or hate this book – but I am sure I’ll pick up the next in the series. Maybe it will clear things up a bit for me, who knows?

***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 Cowboy Rescues a Bride (The Cowboys of Chance Creek #7) by Cora Seton

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The Cowboy Rescues a Bride (The Cowboys of Chance Creek, #7)

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Chance Creek book, and this one has been sitting finished in my laptop for a long time, too. But better late than never, I say~

Most of you who have been with me through my journey concerning this series know how much Ned was NOT a personal favorite. He was rude, and close-minded, and all things wrong when it comes to a man. And I viewed him as a mini-Holt (and God knows I can’t stand the man!). But he grew on me! Turns out, Ned was insecure because of his dyslexia, and he always acted the way he did because he felt he had something to prove. Not that this excuses all that he said and did in the previous books. But it went a long way into helping me understand the man behind the brute.

It took the second-born Matheson the right woman to fall in love with in order to finally become something better. Not only for those around him, but himself as well. And it was extremely satisfying to read the character growth he underwent in his story arc.

And that’s all the positive that went on with this story. I love Cora Seton. I believe her to be THE goddess of western contemporaries. Chance Creek is a fictional paradise for me, one that houses a lot of different, lovable, flawed and wonderful people. Her style is amazing, and it sucks you right in – the dialogues, the wit, the tension and the bonds between her characters.

But this book couldn’t get the perfect 5 in my list for a couple of reasons – though I didn’t think those reasons were enough for me to lower the rating any more, because, again, the writing is perfect and just because I have personal issues with some fictional characters doesn’t mean the whole book gets the heat for it.

The first reason is Holt Matheson. Say what you want, people, but this man is toxic! He keeps pitting his own sons against each other. Keeps pushing them to follow the path HE wants them to take. Keeps being stubborn, and even when he budges a little bit – which happens only after one of his boys harshly rejects him and/or gets seriously injured – it doesn’t feel like a true victory against his hard-headed ways.

The other reason is Fila. The female lead in this book didn’t exactly deliver the way I expected her to. I understand the trauma. And the reactions. But at some point, I ended up just feeling sorry for poor Ned. Hear that?! I SAID “POOR NED”!!! JESUS!
Because, yeah, the guy was tiring himself out trying to please everyone. No wonder he was angry half of the time and lashed out. After a certain part of the book, and considering the romance was already being built from the previous story, her behavior just ticked me off. And, just like Holt, she had to witness Ned getting physically hurt to start getting (keyword, start) her priorities straight. It wasn’t like she didn’t want him, she had her issues, which was only understandable after all she’d gone through, but feeling jealous and being passive-aggressive when Camila came in the picture? (because, yeah, that’s the way I can describe her attitude) Not. Cool.

Still, the story was full of fast-paced scenes and high tension, what with Fila’s anxiety and Ned’s bull-like take on life. It was certainly interesting, and set a good ground for the next book.

***I was given an ARC from the writer 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:

4cupcakes

The Ledberg Runestone (The Jonah Heywood Chronicles #1) by Patrick Donovan

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The Ledberg Runestone (The Jonah Heywood Chronicles, #1)

A debt that needs to be repaid ASAP. A messed up alcoholic with shamanic powers. And a plan that sounds just crazy enough, it might even work! What could possibly go wrong?

Jonah Heywood is not your typical shaman slash P.I. – he’s a cripple with crude manners, first to run away to save his skin, and has a soft spot for the bottom of the nearest bottle. But he’s also in debt. And to get out of it – and unscathed, seeing as the loan sharks are not exactly lenient and would like nothing more than to tear him limb from limb – he needs cash. Lots of it, and fast. So when an opportunity appears itself in the form of a job he knows is not safe to accept, he takes his chances only because there’s nothing left to do. But things rarely go Jonah’s way, and this time is no different…

This book left me in quite the dilemma, I must say. On one hand, the characters were all unique and quite easy to relate to. It didn’t hurt that the dialogues between them were also witty and interesting.

Let’s start with Jonah himself. He was a flawed man through and through. He was so addicted to booze, and everyone BUT him could see it, which is quite realistic. A person with an addiction usually never sees the problem themselves. It was also quite nice to see that the writer didn’t feel the need to keep showing that addiction as something tiring, or forcing it down our throats – you know, every other scene and such. Jonah would reach for the bottle only when things would get rough, or when he was starting to get insecure and all that. Another thing I actually liked is that he wasn’t weak. Far from it. When he finally decided to stand up to everyone trying to push him around, we got to see he had the power to do so to begin with, he just chose to ignore his self-worth and was scared of his own abilities, due to past traumas. This shows a man willing to lower himself to a point where everyone underestimates and insults him, as long as he doesn’t get innocents killed again. He was trying to learn from his youthful mistakes, even if he went all wrong about doing it – it was still so humane of him to do so clumsily.

Aside from Jonah, I adored the scenes with his father. The old guy had no magic powers whatsoever, and was more badass than his own son in his prime! Respect!


Oh, and Sam! Sam was the kind of best friend I wish we all had. Sarcastic, considerate, and yet so subtle in his ways. He didn’t try to filter his mouth when he was ripping a new one on his friend, but he was also trying to be accepting of his flaws and what he had gone through before all this fiasco in the current book. Not to mention that he was willing to risk his life to save Jonah – despite being a normal person himself.

The only problem with this book was the number of plot holes. There were many things that went unanswered, or that didn’t make sense. Like, how did Sam get from laying asleep on Jonah’s floor to rescuing him in the woods? In terms of time, the whole event happened quite fast for him to have managed that. The scene with the payment with Lysone – the whole thing with the price going up and then being the same confused the heck out of me. And what on Earth happened with that girl who kept warning Jonah not to give the runestone to Lysone, only for her to kill one of Mama Duvalier’s daughters and then blame it on him?


Like I said, plot holes.

But the story was relatively easy to read through, and enjoyable. Lots of action, and dry humor, and suspense. And of course, magic! The kind we don’t usually see in books – you know, the whole voodoo-style and the idea of using spirits from bottles (which I’m totally stealing for one of my D&D campaigns, Mr. Donovan, just so you know!). Simply refreshing. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Jonah and his peers, hopefully filling in the blanks I got from this book – and my, that plot twist with Kari and Lysone! You seriously don’t know which one to trust and who is the Big Baddie after all!

***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:3cupcakes

Angel Kin (Angel Assassins #1) by Tricia Skinner

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Angel Kin (Angel Assassins, #2)

Good Lord, have mercy on my poor soul – and panties, because holy wow, what was that?!

Katie Logan, a modern female Robin Hood, becomes the unfortunate witness of a gruesome murder while on a heist. With her target already dead – and fearing for her own life, as well – she enlists the help of a very… special team. Cain and his brothers are half-breeds, sons of angels and mortals, who do not fit in any of the two worlds, and are working as assassins for Heaven. Cain is assigned to protect the little burglar, but what happens when he starts feeling closer to his charge than normal – especially since she can’t seem to trust him, given it was his face she saw that fateful day that changed her life?

I simply loved this one. So many awesome characters, fantastic dialogues, and don’t get me started on the love scenes, the suspense, the action. The story had everything I could possibly love in a book and then some!


It starts with a bang, right from the beginning, with a murder scene so gruesome, I wanted to puke! It wasn’t only the fact that there was very specific detail about Ray’s suicide, it was the psychological warfare of Abel forcing him to do it, and honestly, it was like one of those scenes in horror movies, where you want to turn away and not see what happens next – yet you can’t, because it’s still amazing and intriguing even if your whole stomach’s threatening to spill from your ears!

The love scenes were hot! Not just steamy, HOT! Cain, despite being so old, was not exactly experienced, yet they were so perfectly in sync, Katie thought that wasn’t the case and got jealous – awwww! Not to mention how much they kept fighting each other, with Katie giving as good as she took when her protector was purposely being a jerk – and we all know how couples who do that end up, teehee! (also, let it be known, it was honestly good, it wasn’t just me being biased because Cain is one of my favorite characters to use in a fictional story)

The dynamic in the assassin team was pure perfection. They acted like a true unit, despite being all so different, and the love and affection they held for each other could move a grown man to tears. If one of them was to take the fall, the rest would either be there to take it with him, or try to shoulder his suffering and pain themselves.


The only downside to the story – although not enough for me to lower the rating – was the fact that it took a veeeeery long while for Katie to start fessing up very serious and very important details to the mission. She kept hiding things and omitting information crucial to her survival and the quest she set them all on, and while I understood why she did it at first, it was painful to watch after she found out what happened with Tanis in the past – and she kept doing it!

I’m in love with this series, and I can’t wait to read more – and the prequel as well, Ionie was such a sweetheart in this one! I also wouldn’t mind a book for Abel. From what I saw, he had quite the potential to become a critical part in this war, and his actions in the end for the sake of his brother showed there’s more to him than what we expected to see. (and really, you can’t leave me hanging there with all the what-ifs! my heart recognized the Loki Laufeyson in the dude and I need more!!!)

***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

Shadows of Ghosts by L.A. McGinnis

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Shadows of Ghosts

Logan Dean has never had an easy life. Getting stuck in the middle of a war between almost ancient vampires is definitely what she doesn’t need. She just needs to sort things out with that house she inherited, and then she’s out of South Carolina – until her fateful meeting with Ian Grant starts changing her perspective on the matter. Now she must fight to stay alive – and happy, for the first time ever since that tragic incident of her past…

A quite nice read, with many remarkable scenes and so much history between the characters to boot. Each character was real and well-thought out, and I couldn’t stop reading until I was already at the end. It had so many of my favorite things in romance stories, but the main one was the “rivalry turned to love”. I simply looooove when a couple goes from bickering to intense romantic feelings – and with Ian’s history, it was only so much sweeter when he finally gave in to what his once-again-beating heart wanted.

The love scenes were intense, hot, and steamy. Granted, we didn’t get to enjoy that particular part very early in the story, and that was for the best, seeing as the couple had to get to that point emotionally first. I was worried for a moment there that it would be the usual “sex between closed doors” idiocy some authors use, but I was thankfully wrong. I personally hate when we don’t get to see the climax of a tension between the two leads of a romantic story, especially when it’s so heavy and obvious.

Also, the characters! Oh my god! They evoke so many feelings, you guys, you can’t read this book without getting emotional about all of them! Let’s start with the good ones: Robert and Colin!!!! The lawyer was simply adorable, and Colin…. Well, he’s a ginger, so you got me there, I’m extremely biased, BUT CAN WE PLEASE GET A BOOK FOR HIM, TOO?!?!
Bart on the other hand can burn in hell! What the heck was wrong with that guy?! Making deals for his own gain and expecting others to pay his debt, selling Caye, and don’t get me started on how he kept going after Ian’s women! WHAT KIND OF FRIEND DOES THAT?!?!

I’m absolutely in love with McGinnis’s style, and I’m so gonna read other books of hers! This was but a wonderful taste to all she can offer as a writer, and I honestly can’t wait!

***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:

4cupcakes

Eyes of the Seer (The Derbfine Series #2) by Ashley York

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Eyes of the Seer (Derbfine, #2)

Good God, is Ashley York ever going to write something that I don’t like?!

In the 2nd book, we see the story of Diarmuid’s best friend, and Astrid, Diarmuid’s sister. Marcán is by far the only man Astrid doesn’t see herself married to, no matter how much the poor man is pining for her. Instead, she’s happy to follow all of her mother’s instructions on how to behave and live her life, as long as it makes her mother happy. Until one of those decisions leads her down a path she finds is not right for her. Marcán is the one who saves her – and finally, Astrid is able to see who has cared for her all along, and what she has to do to set things in her life right again.

All right, I’ll say it right now. I wasn’t a fan of Astrid at first. I didn’t like her meek attitude when it came to her mother, and how she acted like a bitch to everyone else. That’s a cowardly act to follow, and though I understand her need to please her mother, like most people, that was taking it a step too far. A little dignity, woman!


Speaking of her mother, OF COURSE she was from Padraig’s clan! Rotted, the whole lot of them! Nothing to redeem those people, no matter what! They talked a big game of how abused some of them were, and how they wanted to be respected as well and loved, but really, they acted awfully when it suited them, too! Not to mention how obsessed Beibhinn was when it came to her supposed religious beliefs (thank God for the priest at the end for putting her in her place)! First Aednat, and then poor Marcán – and in the latter’s case, really, it was even worse! She was trying to ruin his life because she was rejected?! Woman, get a life! Classic example of a spoilt, bratty female who just couldn’t let go! I pity Kane – he deserved better!

Another character that really shocked me when it came to my reactions was Faolan. I adored him at first, the stutter was really cute and he was adorable, like a puppy! But then he revealed another, more cunning and sort of deceiving side of him, and I was a bit sad with that fact. But that only goes to show how good Ms. York is in making her characters realistic. Just like real people, you never really know what is truly going on inside a person’s head, or what their motives for helping you out are. Delightful, even if surprising!

All in all, I enjoyed this book – A LOT! Historical romance at its finest, and spot on to so many references. Ashley York knows how to mix fantasy and facts, and does so effortlessly! The dialogues, the way the people talk and act and think, and the pace, oh my! And don’t even get me started on the love scenes – talk about hot and sexual tension thick as hell! I’m definitely reading the rest of the series!

***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

Stake and Dust (Stake and Dust, Book 1) by Karen Michelle Nutt

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Stake and Dust (Stake and Dust, Book 1)

Now that was an interesting read. Left me with a bit of a craving, of course, but quite enjoyable even so.

Cassandra Hayes and Tremayne Graystone end up working together to solve a series of murders when the latter answers the phone of a hunter found dead at his doorstep. Pretending to be a human, the vampire finds himself in a terrible dilemma as Ms. Hayes is someone he’s quickly becoming addicted to – and he knows there is no telling what will happen once he tells her the truth of who he really is, especially since she comes from a family of vampire hunters.

OK, this was an intriguing story, and admittedly I was hooked from the start. The plot was nice and the pace just right, plus the cast of characters made things even better and more aesthetic, with their many different personalities and the witty dialogues. (Sheerin, especially, was my personal favorite – hey, I find him hot, back off!)

However, what cost the book two cupcakes from perfection – and really, what a downer – was the fact that there was no final… physical confrontation of the main couple’s feelings. So much sexual tension, and, at least from Tremayne’s side, not exactly subtle – the guy wanted Cassandra, and it was obvious as hell – yet no… action. And no satisfaction for yours truly, you all know how I feel about unresolved business on the matter. For God’s sake, a man as wonderful and sensual as Tremayne deserves some action between the sheets, don’t you agree?

But that’s just personal preference and taste, so don’t mind me. I’m actually planning on reading more books from this series and this author – the storytelling was good enough to have me come back for more, at the very least, and that’s commendable.

***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.***

Return of the Lycan King: Nicholas and Kristen (Return of the Lycan King #1) by Candace Blackburn

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Return of the Lycan King: Nicholas and Kristen

I just realized I had this book marked as read, when in fact I did not go further than page 96 – that’s what you get when you mix the books from your list while trying to put your reading challenge in some kind of line…. Oh, well…

I’m not gonna take long with this one. Basically, it had werewolves, and that’s always a plus for me. Add to that the fact that a heroine with a troubled past unlike anything I’ve read so far was the main female lead, and you probably know why I was so intrigued to choose to read this story.

But it all fell terribly short. Kristen was not as deep a character as I would have liked, sure, though she wasn’t the one ruining this for me, surprisingly (I’m usually angry at most female leads). It was Nicholas. Honestly, this whole thing gave me a very stalkerish vibe – it was kinda creepy, not in a good way, mind you, and I kept itching to put the book down ever since I passed page 50 (which is my usual standard page number for a book to impress me enough to keep reading). It’s a miracle I even made it this far!

Unfortunately, this book didn’t do it for me. I’m very sad to say I won’t be reading the rest of the series…

***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:

cartoon-cupcake

Dragon Laird (Dragon Spawn Chronicles Book 1) by Alyna Lochlan

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Dragon Laird (Dragon Spawn Chronicles Book 1)

Dragons, scots, and a HEA – what more could a woman ask for?

Rhiannon and Dylan both have certain skills that are not natural – magic has made their lives more complicated than most, and their fates are entwined in ways they weren’t exactly ready to experience. But now that an evil sorcerer has started the motion of letting the dragons free, they must work together in order to save everything that they hold dear.

I fell in love with both the characters and the story! It was a nicely set pace, with lots of interesting dialogue parts and romantic scenes, and while initially it wouldn’t seem so (seeing as “fated to be” sounds kinda forced), the love between Rhiannon and Dylan happened just right. Not to mention that I love the trope of the “boy maiden” – it’s not only hilarious, but also exciting to see when the other shoe drops and the inevitable happens. Plus, I can get behind a woman who’ll do even the unthinkable to make sure her destiny is in her own hands. It’s a special kind of medieval romance that I had missed.

But that doesn’t mean that the secondary characters are any less interesting. On the contrary, I was as invested in the main leads, as I was with most of the others in this book. Jealous papa-Gian made me laugh so hard, I nearly cried [and those tears definitely did come out with Owain’s death]. And don’t get me started on Robbie and Nessa!

I can’t wait to read more of this series!

***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:

4cupcakes