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BOOK REVIEW: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK REVIEW: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. JensenThe Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1)
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

“Heart-pounding romance and intense action wrapped in a spellbinding world. I was hooked from the first page!” – Elise Kova, USA Today bestselling author of A Deal with the Elf King.

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara's homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

Passionate and violent, The Bridge Kingdom is a seductive fantasy perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Review

Ithicana needed a queen who was a warrior. A woman who’d fight to the death for her people. A woman who was cunning and ruthless, not because she wanted to be, but because her country needed her to be. A woman who’d challenge him every day for the rest of his life. A woman Ithicana would respect.

And there was one thing he was certain: Lara Veliant was not that woman.


At this point I have seen this book recommended a thousand times over in several different Facebook groups I’m in. Did I listen to any of those people? No. Do I feel like an idiot about it? Yes. THANK GOD I finally found people to push me about it with previous book opinions that I trusted or else who knows how long it might have been before it would have been picked up.

“I’m sorry I’ve been so terrible. You deserve someone better than me.”
Aren exhaled, but said nothing. The methodical movement of him climbing the stairs lulled her, consciousness slowly fading away. She didn’t fight it, because against all the odds, she trusted him implicitly. Still, she was aware enough to hear him, his voice hoarse as he said, “Since the moment I set eyes on you in Southwatch, there’s been no one but you. Even if I’m a goddamned fool for it, there will never be anyone but you.”
You are a fool, she thought as darkness took her.
And that made two of them.


After reading ACOSF I’m realizing that I’m in need of more adult fantasy recs. I will always love YA but it’s getting to the point where I want more darkness, more sexy times, and more characters that are legitimately adults. This was the perfect book for those wanting to transition from YA to NA/Adult fantasy I think. The characters still feel on the younger side and there’s nothing so explicit as what we saw in ACOSF (too bad really, lol) but damn there was a lot of darkness in this book. A lot of angst and real world countries-at-war-and-people-are-slaughtered type problems if you know what I mean. This is my first book by Jensen and I have to say, her writing was not what I expected in an entirely good way. I sometimes make the terrible assumption that for some series that don’t have as big of an audience/ are written by authors I know nothing about, that they aren’t that great. AND THAT IS, AGAIN, TERRIBLE. Don’t make the same mistakes as me, people. Read this book. Honestly you probably could read any of her books and they would be amazing (Dark Shores I’m coming for you next).

“I don’t want to leave.” The words were a truth dug from the depths of her heart. She did not want to leave Ithicana. She did not want to leave him. She wanted to stay, to fight and sweat and bleed for him and his harsh, wild, and beautiful kingdom.

On to the characters. Lara. Ooof you stubborn ass. She reminded me a lot of Celaena Sardothian if I’m being honest. She has a lot of really great growth in this book and beyond (I’m actually halfway through #2 right now) and I enjoyed watching her realize how much of a liar her father was and how she grew to respect the Ithicanian people. Aren. You’re also a stubborn ass. But with a heart of gold. Their romance was definitely of the slow burn nature but it was perfect for this book. While both of them might have felt a glimmer of attraction and connection early on, it did take time for them to actually fall in love and I really appreciated that.

“Look at me.” She did, pressing her cheek against his hand as he reached up to cup the side of her head. “I love you,” he said, his lips grazing against hers. “And I will love you, no matter what the future brings. No matter how hard I need to fight. I will always love you.”

The plot and ending. Well, well, well. The plot of this series is an interesting one. There is some really interesting world building and I was very glad for the map to reference places throughout the book. It was a lot but because Jensen’s writing is so colorful and descriptive I never had a problem envisioning what things looked like, only where exactly they were really. I am so interested to learn more about this world and these characters and to hopefully not have my heart ruined any more than it already has been by the ending! Lol good luck to all you who haven’t read this yet. You will certainly need it!

Aren cast his gaze over the replica of his kingdom. “Ithicana has always been at war, and what do we have to show for it?”
“We’re alive. We have the bridge.”
“Don’t you think it’s time we fight for something more?”

BOOK REVIEW: Bombshells (Brooklyn #5) by Sarina Bowen

BOOK REVIEW: Bombshells (Brooklyn #5) by Sarina BowenBombshells (Brooklyn #5)
by Sarina Bowen
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The women's league is in the house! And Brooklyn will never be the same again for Anton Bayer and the team…

This is my last chance to ditch my playboy reputation and finally fulfill my potential. So I’ve made three rules for our biggest season yet: no boozing, no women, and no scandals.

Especially that last thing.

So who do I befriend on the very first day back at the rink? An amazing female hockey player. I want Sylvie in a way that’s more than just friendly. I crave her. But I have a championship to win, and so does she.

Then she gets her heart broken by my teammate, and I make the foolish mistake of comforting her in the best way I know how. Our night together sets off a string of sins.

Nobody can know about our affair, especially my overprotective teammate. I can’t let anyone see into my greedy little heart. Not even her.

The things I want from her, and the things we’ve already done? If anyone knew, there’d be bombshells.

Contains: a defenseman with dreamy blue eyes, a female goalie with bad ideas, a major battle of the sexes and a swimming pool scene...

Review

Hold the phone—this goalie is a girl. No—a woman. With rich brown hair and luck olive skin. She shakes out her hair, which seems to be in the process of escaping whatever braid or ponytail that had confined it. Then she smiles, giving the little girl a wave.
And I can’t fucking breathe. Her smile lights up her eyes, which are a warm brown. She is like the living, breathing picture of female perfection.


Reading about the same kinds of tropes over and over in romance, as long as I love them, rarely ever gets old to me. Authors come up new ways to spin things and unique and loveable characters to get attached to but all is well. That’s not to say though, that a lot of those book are just okay. Like I read them, they make me happy, and then they’re over with. THEN, there are books that you read and something strikes you like a bolt of lightning while reading a certain line and you just…can’t breathe. I felt that way when I read the quote found above. “And I can’t fucking breathe.” Like who wouldn’t want someone to look at them and literally lose the ability to breathe because they are so stunned by what they are seeing in front of them. That line for me was the very moment that I knew Anton and Sylvie’s story was going to be something extraordinary.

Sylvie stares right back at me. And then her hand finds the back of my neck, where her fingers sift through the short hair at my nape. Maybe she’s trying to make Campeau jealous. But my body doesn’t know that. Every nerve I possess sits up straight and sings hallelujah.
“Any man could lose his heart to you,” I whisper. “So easily.”
“Just dance with me,”
 she whispers back. “I’m don’t talking about him.”


I will never not feel comforted by Bowen’s writing and the familiarity that her characters and even just their world bring. When one of her books has that some extra though I feel like I’ve won the lottery. Baby Bayer, excuse me, Anton is freakin hilarious. I loved that even though he was trying to take things more seriously this season, he still was the funny guy without even trying. Sylvie was great. She was strong and kind, and so amazing. The chemistry that she and Anton had, even while just friends, was off the charts. Also, can I just say that I am so excited for more books with the Bombshells alongside the Bruisers? I know nothing about hockey other than what I’ve learned from romance books (LOLOL) but the thought of this woman’s team rising up like a phoenix from the ashes has me real excited for future books. If you’ve enjoyed any of Bowen’s previous books, I will personally guarantee you will love this one.

And the soundtrack running through my head is mine mine mine. And finally. I’ve never been so turned on, because I’ve never wanted anyone as badly as I want her.

Huge thanks to Sarina Bowen and Tuxbury Publishing LLC for the chance to read this eARC in exchange for my honest opinion. ♥

BOOK REVIEW: Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra Clare

BOOK REVIEW: Chain of Iron (The Last Hours #2) by Cassandra ClareChain of Iron (The Last Hours #2)
by Cassandra Clare
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Shadowhunters must catch a killer in Edwardian London in this dangerous and romantic sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Chain of Gold, from New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cassandra Clare. Chain of Iron is a Shadowhunters novel.

Cordelia Carstairs seems to have everything she ever wanted. She’s engaged to marry James Herondale, the boy she has loved since childhood. She has a new life in London with her best friend Lucie Herondale and James’s charming companions, the Merry Thieves. She is about to be reunited with her beloved father. And she bears the sword Cortana, a legendary hero’s blade.

But the truth is far grimmer. James and Cordelia’s marriage is a lie, arranged to save Cordelia’s reputation. James is in love with the mysterious Grace Blackthorn whose brother, Jesse, died years ago in a terrible accident. Cortana burns Cordelia’s hand when she touches it, while her father has grown bitter and angry. And a serial murderer is targeting the Shadowhunters of London, killing under cover of darkness, then vanishing without a trace.

Together with the Merry Thieves, Cordelia, James, and Lucie must follow the trail of the knife-wielding killer through the city’s most dangerous streets. All the while, each is keeping a shocking secret: Lucie, that she plans to raise Jesse from the dead; Cordelia, that she has sworn a dangerous oath of loyalty to a mysterious power; and James, that he is being drawn further each night into the dark web of his grandfather, the arch-demon Belial. And that he himself may be the killer they seek.

Review

This is now the 18th book I’ve read by Cassandra Clare. What’s even crazier is that I have been reading about the Shadowhunter world for FOURTEEN YEARS. Her writing and her characters have been with me through some of my most formative years alive and these books have honestly been part of the reason why I am such a lover of long, drawn out series with books big enough to knock a person out (you know, if you were to use one as a weapon which I don’t condone lolll). The Infernal Devices made me feel ~things~ back in the day that I honestly didn’t even know books could elicit. Tessa was a kindred spirit who loved books as much as I did and Will Herondale was exactly the kind of broody boy with dark hair and blue eyes that I dreamed out endlessly. Once I was fully ensconced in this world, I knew there would never be a day that I wouldn’t want to immediately read the stuff she puts out.

However, I have lately noticed that as I grow older, the stuff just doesn’t hit in the same way it used to. In my opinion it’s not on Clare’s writing. I think that has improved with each book. Her writing still CONTINUOUSLY has me aching for the characters and wanting more. I mean, at this point I don’t know if there has been ONE single relationship that hasn’t been fraught with angst and somehow each of them is angsty in a new way??? Like how in the hell does she even do that?

I think the biggest “issue” for me is that back in the day when I had WAY LESS obligations, I was able to re-read like every single book that had previously come out beforehand, leading up to the new book. Now I have a full time job and two kids which leaves me with a lot less time, even with audiobooks on a faster-than-normal, lol. At this point with The Last Hours not only do we have references to things that happened in TID but also characters/ events we see again later in TMI and TDA. Like holy crap I can’t keep anything straight anymore lol. Mark my words though, I am doing a COMPLETE chronological re-read before The Wicked Powers come out…someday.

ANYWAY on to my thoughts on this specific book:
1. I love every single Herondale but why do they ALWAYS get themselves into such deep shit? lolol I ask in my most loving of ways. ESPECIALLY when any kind of romance is involved. I’m truly starting to believe it’s some kind of genetic trai

2. I just want View Spoiler » to be happy forever

3. And for that matter,  View Spoiler » P.s. you should definitely read Ghosts of the Shadow Market before reading this

4. I am genuinely NERVOUS for Matthew. Like the fact that everyone keeps brushing his growing alcohol dependency under the rug and telling themselves that he’s not actually addicted…makes my heart hurt for ALL of them.

5. Cordelia might honestly be my favorite female lead of Clare’s of all time. I was talking to a friend about this actually and I think it’s because she is so different than almost every other lead we’ve ever seen. At the beginning of the series she is totally un-jaded to this world. She hasn’t had a traumatic thing happen to her with some kind of crazy death or tragedy like LITERALLY everyone else, lol. She purely wants to be a Shadowhunter for the sake of ridding the world of evil. Not any kind of revenge or even the glory. She is so pure of heart and heroic and literally is an amazing example of what (in a perfect world) Shadowhunters SHOULD all be like. I’m interested to see how her character reacts to certain events that unfolded in this book…

6. Damnit Tatiana you crazy old bat

7. OKAY WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN View Spoiler »

8. I’m calling it right now View Spoiler » 

9. View Spoiler »

10. View Spoiler »

BOOK EXCERPT: Bombshells (Brooklyn #5) by Sarina Bowen

BOOK EXCERPT: Bombshells (Brooklyn #5) by Sarina Bowen

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book is. It honestly might have bumped its way into the top favorite spot of everything I've ever read by Bowen (and that's a lot of books, lol).

BOOK EXCERPT: Bombshells (Brooklyn #5) by Sarina BowenBombshells (Brooklyn #5)
by Sarina Bowen
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The women's league is in the house! And Brooklyn will never be the same again for Anton Bayer and the team…

This is my last chance to ditch my playboy reputation and finally fulfill my potential. So I’ve made three rules for our biggest season yet: no boozing, no women, and no scandals.

Especially that last thing.

So who do I befriend on the very first day back at the rink? An amazing female hockey player. I want Sylvie in a way that’s more than just friendly. I crave her. But I have a championship to win, and so does she.

Then she gets her heart broken by my teammate, and I make the foolish mistake of comforting her in the best way I know how. Our night together sets off a string of sins.

Nobody can know about our affair, especially my overprotective teammate. I can’t let anyone see into my greedy little heart. Not even her.

The things I want from her, and the things we’ve already done? If anyone knew, there’d be bombshells.

Contains: a defenseman with dreamy blue eyes, a female goalie with bad ideas, a major battle of the sexes and a swimming pool scene...

Excerpt

He hums under his breath as he locates the safety pin tucked under the fabric, and carefully frees it from the dress.

“There,” he says quietly as the velvet begins to slip against my skin. “Ah, careful.” He pauses, holding the dress in place, because that narrow circle of fabric is the only thing holding up the top of the dress. It wants to slip down my body. 

I don’t make a move to help him. I don’t reach back, and I don’t let him off the hook. Instead, I reach for his free hand, and wrap it around my hip. And then I lean back against him, taking in the heat of his hard chest through his tuxedo shirt. 

I hold my breath. Because I want this. No, I need this. I’m so tired of waiting and wanting. And Anton’s nearness has always done swoopy things to my stomach. 

Why not now? Why not him, and why not me?

“Sylvie,” he whispers, and it sounds like a prayer. Then he drops the collar of the dress, and it slides like a silky waterfall down my upper body, until stopped by the zipper.

Then? I reach back and tug the zipper down slowly. 

Cool air hits my skin. Anton makes a low groan of protest as the dress continues to slide, exposing my lacy strapless bra. Then soft lips slip across the back of my neck. “Is this what you’re asking me for?” He kisses the juncture of my shoulder.

“Yes.”

“And this?” His tongue darts out to taste my skin, and my goosebumps redouble.

Yes,” I gasp.

He kisses me again, his mouth growing bolder and less gentle. Wet, open-mouthed kisses swirl against my skin, and then he taunts me with his tongue. 

Hell, I feel it in my nipples. I feel it everywhere. And I tilt my head to give him better access. He groans again, tasting my skin, tonguing each new inch, sucking lazily where it suits him before moving on. 

I had no idea a man could get me so hot by kissing my neck. I want more, so I try to turn around. 

But Anton tightens his arm around my waist, fighting me. He pins me in place, my back to his chest, and he continues the erotic assault on my bare shoulder.

My breasts feel achy, and I’ve started to shake. The brace of his hard body makes me sweat. “Please,” I beg. I’m in a hurry now. More. Hotter. Faster. 

“Slow the fuck down,” he hisses. “If we’re making this trip to the land of reckless decisions, I’m gonna enjoy the ride. Now hold still.”

I stand quietly on loose knees, while Anton locates the zipper where it’s trapped at my hips. He eases it down at a torturous pace. I fight off a shiver as he drags his fingertips down my bare back, past the lace of my bra, and all the way onto my lacy black panties.

My dress falls into a silky heap at my feet.

“Sweet Jesus,” he whispers, as one big hand massages my ass cheek. “You’re stunning, Sylvie.”

No one has ever paid me such a compliment, in such a reverent tone. And nobody has ever run his hands over my ass the way he’s doing now—his touch a mixture of wonder and ownership. 

This is exactly what my life has been missing. 

Again, I try to turn around, and this time he lets me. I look up into that incredible gaze. “Take me to bed now, Anton. You know you want to.”

He swallows roughly. I see a flicker of something dark cross those bright eyes. “If this is really what you want.” He lifts his chin toward the bedroom. “Lead the way.”

“It is,” I assure him. Then I step out of the circle of my dress and lean down to pick it up, wearing nothing but see-through black lingerie and my heels.

“Jesus fuck,” he mutters in a voice that sounds almost angry. The moment I’m vertical again, he yanks my hips toward his body as his mouth crushes mine. 

I wasn’t expecting the kiss, but I am a professional goalkeeper, and pretty damn good at catching things flying my way. So it only takes me a split second to adjust to the friendly assault of Anton’s aggressive mouth. His lips stroke mine urgently. I lean in and kiss him with everything I’ve got. 

He tilts his head and brushes his tongue across the seam of my lips. His roughened hand cups my jaw, his thumb sliding over my cheekbone. It’s possessive in a way that makes my heart stutter. 

It doesn’t matter that I’m in way over my head. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never actually been naked with a man before. When I chose this one, I chose well.

 

BOOK REVIEW: Headstrong (Vino & Veritas #3) by Eden Finley

BOOK REVIEW: Headstrong (Vino & Veritas #3) by Eden FinleyHeadstrong (Vino & Veritas #3)
by Eden Finley
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong?

When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart.

But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away.

Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated.

Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy.

I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips...

Review

I’m going to let you in on something that I think is hilarious, lol. I am lucky enough to be part of Sarina Bowen’s ARC team and as such, was super lucky enough to snag a few of these World of True North books early. When I was going through this series, I saw the phrase “hockey player” and was like DAMN I need this. Then, as I was reading Heartscape I got to wondering, “Hmmm I wonder if any of these books will feature Rainn…I know he said he was straight when we first met him bartending in Roommate but I guess you never know.” LOL what do you know! The straight guy in the tagline for this book in in fact, Rainn.

Along with Rainn, his book features Whit, a hockey player at Moo U who has recently come out but has yet to have any sort of relationship/hookup with anyone. In attempts to remedy that, he decides to spend some time at the local bar that is popular and welcoming to the queer community and bumps into Rainn, quite literally. Basically they two are off to a shitty start, lol. Whit is the type of person who constantly has word vomit and can’t ever stop and Rainn is….the complete opposite lol. The two wind up striking up an unlikely friendship because Rainn feels for Whit after seeing him strike out a few times at the bar and Whit is convinced he’s going to make Rainn fall in love with hockey again.

Two things you have to know: #1 Rainn had been a great hockey player from Moo U with a bright future until a career ending injury snatched away his dreams. #2 Whit has a huge crush on Rainn.

Even though there were times that Whit’s personality kind of annoyed me?? Like some of the flippant word vomit I talked about earlier just made me think that he’s the type of person people either love or hate, lol. Overall I did love their relationship. The fact that Rainn just slowly started to realize that he couldn’t deny this chemistry the two of them shared. They just grew into a friendship that morphed into so much more and I loved that.

While there is a small bit of “drama” between the two towards the end, it’s completely realistic stuff. Especially with the type of emotional baggage Rainn has been carrying around since his injury. The way they both took the time to work on their own stuff for a short second to come back together stronger and more sure than ever made my heart happy. Another win for The World of True North!

Huge thanks to Heart Eyes Press for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!♥

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