Author: Chelsea (Peril Please) (page 1 of 94)

BOOK REVIEW: Under Locke by Mariana Zapata

BOOK REVIEW: Under Locke by Mariana ZapataUnder Locke by Mariana Zapata
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly... even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.

And the last thing they ever expected was each other.

But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.

… she should have chosen the strip club.

He squeezed me to him, tight. “But you don’t gotta worry about anything. There’s only a few things I’ve ever given a shit about. Everything else… is seasonal, as Ma would say.” He pressed his mouth to my temple, whispering, “Then there’s you.”

That moment when you know an author has changed your life forever….it’s this one. This moment. Yes-I have posted only two other reviews previously for said author, but like with your love life-if you know, you know. And here? It’s unmistakable to me that Mariana Zapata was someone I was destined to find right when I needed a push for happiness in my life.

When exactly I’d started looking forward to spending time with him, I had no idea. When I started eating up those little smiles at Pins and those little secrets we shared… I have no idea either. But I had. I’d grown to accept the fact that I had a massive attraction to someone who might not be capable of liking me in return.

We can’t choose who/what we love (I mean… we can, but c’mon) or why we love it-sometimes something or someone just falls into your lap and it’s meant to be. And the emotions that are invoked when I pick up a Zapata book can’t be faked nor embellished. Nothing about these books are perfect-in fact, I’d even venture to say that my stuck up ass would have lifted my nose in the air not even two years ago and refused to finish this story because of some of the editing errors-few though as there are. But they’re perfect for ME, right now, here and in this moment. And I refuse to believe these characters wouldn’t have stolen my heart, anyway.

“Babe, I’ve handpicked everythin’ and everyone in here. I know what I want and I get what I want,” he breathed. “And I keep what’s mine.”

I won’t make this as long as my other Zapata reviews because, well, if you’ve heard me gush about one of her men, you’ve heard me gush about all of them, really. Her books tend to have the same formulas, the same macho-ness, the same heroine psycho-babble inside their minds….but, somehow, they always seem to touch me in different ways. How in the world do you explain that? But, I will say this: This is by far the most different MZ to date.

“What do you think?”
“Jaywalking?” I laughed.
“No.” I turned my head to look at him over my shoulder. “Indecent exposure?”
All he did was stare at me for the longest moment in history in response. When I snickered, he blinked, one side of his mouth tipping up just barely.
“I don’t think I’ve ever let anybody gimme as much grief as you do.”

The guy was a bit grittier, the story not a sports romance, and the end result a little different. Yes, there were a LOT of similarities-wonderful friends, hilarious banter, devoted man, amazing storyline, hate-to-love, but that’s, for me, where the similarities ended. For one, the guy in this book was a lot, hmm, gruffer. He wasn’t frills and flowers-he was a tattoo shop owner and a member of a motorcycle club. He didn’t conform to what I’m accustomed to, and I dug it-I dug it hard. And, MZ is the QUEEN of slow-burn, yes? Well, the MC’s get together MUCH earlier in this story so we have a lot more couple time-which I just plain adored. And this story-line, while not completely dastardly, had a more menacing undertone. So, ya know, just a smidgen (and I do mean SMIDGEN) of peril to dash on an already beautifully concocted sundae of feels.

His laugh was hard. “Honey, you and me, we’re more than just friends.”
And… I was dead. I had to be.
Dex scrubbed his fingers over his lips again, his glare violent. “Look at you. I never stood a fuckin’ chance.”

And, as always, my favorite parts included both jealousy of the MC (yaaassss Zapata), the slow burn, and the NEED to protect the heroine at all costs. So, naturally, what I always love in most any book-it just is always done so well, here. Now….like with any book, I’ll be candid-There was more here I could see people having a problem with than her other works. And it’s hard for me to say what those things are because they just plain don’t bother me. The only tic that lightly bothered me was Dex’s southern lilt. It was an adjustment for me, because I’m super picky with speech in stories. But, other than that, what might bother people include, but are not limited to, the virgin heroine storyline, the motorcycle=bad boy trope, the more ‘aggressive’ nature of Dex (fists first, questions later (SOMETIMES)), the possessive feel he has for Iris even when they aren’t together-NONE of this bothers me, and, frankly, tons of books have guys that get jelly and are possessive of the girl they adore, but I suppose, on top of everything else, this might be harder for others to swallow. Just my honest opinion, there. See? I can be rational and unbiased for the sake of others.

I finally had it though. Only one of us could be a moody shit, and that would be me.

And, finally, I just plain adored the sex scenes in this one. Yeah, I know, weird of me to say-but in every MZ you know there is at least ONE explosive scene we all wait for at the end….but I felt these sex scenes were, by far, the most well-written and the most addicting. Perhaps it has to do with the timing in the other stories where we wait so long that we are extremely picky, but I just know that this one was my favorite, so far, of the three. And, I’ll be honest, I just LOVE the bad boy/virgin trope. SORRY NOT SORRY.

I was swallowed whole by emotion. By this terrifying thing that had to be love because it hurt as much as it soothed.

Once again I have gushed myself into oblivion, but I did it with no frills and I think this is what this book needed and deserved. It wasn’t a cutesy sports romance like the others (they were far from cutesy but what else could I explain them as?), and it needed more subtle reviewing. I adored this book, like all the others, and I cannot wait to order my signed copy. I hope everyone continues to give this amazingly raw and honest author rave reviews-because she deserves all the hype. All of it.


When you’re having a bad week and nothing else makes you happy-You’ll always have Zapata…

Nothing makes me happier or relaxes me more. Or, at least, that’s how I feel :)))

View all my reviews

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: Counterfeit Boyfriend by Cindi Madsen

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: Counterfeit Boyfriend by Cindi Madsen

I am so honored today to take part in hosting Cindi Madsen's blog tour for her newest release-Counterfeit boyfriend! This woman hasn't written anything I don't love-Don't even get me STARTED on my darling, Silas!!! Below you'll find an awesome excerpt, a little teaser, purchase links, and the author's bio. This book was nothing short of spectacular (like all of her work-duh!), so I hope you'll check it out. ENJOY!

BLOG TOUR + EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: Counterfeit Boyfriend by Cindi MadsenCounterfeit Boyfriend by Cindi Madsen
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

My twin brother’s talked me into a lot of crazy things, but taking his place on a road trip with his girlfriend so he can party with his friends is a whole new level of insanity. What’s even more insane is I somehow find myself agreeing to it—thanks, alcohol, guilt, and bribery. I’m determined to undo the arrangement, but then I meet Gwen, this sexy redheaded hurricane of energy and brains.

And then she kisses me. Just like that, I’m driving her up the coast, on our way to a wedding with a mess of complications. With each hour and each stop, I’m falling harder and harder for a woman who doesn’t know my actual name.

I’m trying to do the right thing. Or the lesser of the wrong things. All my life I’ve had to clean up my brother’s messes, but for the first time ever, I’ve landed the upper hand in one of our switcheroo schemes. Now I’ve just got to come clean and convince Gwen that I’m the brother she should be with.


It’s no secret that I’m a hardcore fantasy junkie and I love my serious romantic peril. But, when it all comes down to it….I’m a big ‘ol softie for contemporary romance. Yeah, yeah, I know. But when you’re down, having a bad week, day, whatever, there’s nothing like a simple story of a guy falling for a girl…and doing anything he can to make her his. Sorry not sorry, that’s my THING, and I will not apologize for it. So, let’s not waste any more time. If you’ve read a book by Cindi Madsen, you know how epic she is. If you haven’t….well. You’re missing out. What are you waiting for?! Read this adorable excerpt and get on with it already. I hope you all love it. 


Five ridiculously intense rides where I’d wrapped myself around Evan later, my legs and body had turned gelatinous after moving too fast for too long.
And I was still wrapped around Evan. That move was like twenty percent the-ground-felt-unsteady-under-my-feet, and eighty percent enjoying-being-wrapped-around-him.
He slowed in front of the booth with a tower of milk bottles people tried to knock over for prizes. “To make up for dragging you along on all those rides—which I know you enjoyed, even though you’ll never admit it—I’m going to win you a prize.”
“One, I enjoyed them as much as anyone who thinks too much about every bolt and rickety part can, and two, these games are all rigged.”
“No faith,” he said, shaking his head.
“That’s what happens when you’re tricked into riding death traps in the name of ‘fun.’”
Evan lowered his lips to mine, and the way my stomach dipped and my skin hummed was a hundred times better than any thrill I could get from even the most insane carnival ride. “And now to wow you with my other talents.”
The guy handed him five balls for his five dollars, and Evan lined up for his throw. He launched the ball through the air, and while the speed and the way it smacked the bottles was impressive, they didn’t go down.
Since I like to be super helpful, I said, “See. Rigged.”
Evan quirked his eyebrow at me, then picked up the next ball and threw it. Another hit, but the bottles barely wobbled.
“I gotta be honest, I was more wowed by the kissing.”
He pinched my side, his grin bringing out the sexy grooves in his cheeks. Determination set his jaw as I handed him the next ball. Three more throws, three more times the stack wobbled but didn’t go down.
“One more round?” the guy working the booth asked. Then he looked at me. “How about I give the lady one throw for free? I won’t even straighten the bottles.”
He pulled a bright-red ball out from under the stand, and with a shrug, I reached for it. Not like I had anything to lose. I studied the ball, noticing it looked bigger than the ones Evan had been using, and it felt heavier as well.
The guy working the booth gave me a secretive smile I quickly returned.
“Do you need me to wrap my arms around you under the pretense of teaching you to throw?” Evan asked.
“Hmm. While I like the thought of that, I think it’d be safer for everyone if you gave my throwing arm a wide berth.”
He took an exaggerated step back and placed a protective hand over his package.
“Very funny.” I sucked in a deep breath, cocked my arm, and threw for all I was worth.
The ball collided with the bottles, and they went down with a loud clatter. I jumped up and down and added a maniacal laugh. The guy working the booth pointed at the stuffed animals I could choose from.
“Way to show me up,” Evan teased as he came up behind me, wound his arms around my waist, and rested his chin on my shoulder.
I glanced back at him. “What prize do you want?”
“You won it for me, huh?” he asked, and I nodded.
“I want you to have a souvenir to show off to your friends when you brag about how well I take care of you.”
He moved his lips to the column of my neck and dropped a kiss there, and my entire body broke out in goosebumps. “Then I want the unicorn riding the rainbow, of course.”
“Oh, sure. Promise me a unicorn, then rub it in my face when you get one.”
The guy handed me the colorful stuffed creature, and I studied my prize as we walked away. “This unicorn’s more than riding the rainbow; he’s totally humping it.”
Evan’s soft chuckle sent happiness pinging through me. “Horny magical creature.”
That made me snort-laugh, and I hugged the dirty unicorn to my chest, already sure it was going to be my all-time favorite souvenir.


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About the Author:

Cindi Madsen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a pretty new pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music and dancing and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband, three children, and one overly-dramatic tomcat.

You can visit Cindi at:, where you can sign up for her newsletter to get all the up-to-date information on her books. Follow her on Twitter @cindimadsen. 


Connect with Cindi:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Street Team | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter


Blog Tour Schedule:

June 26th           

Book Magic – Under a spell with every page          Review

Bookwormqueen92         Excerpt

Reading with 2 book lovers          Review

Book Starlets      Review

June 27th           

Read Your Writes Book Reviews Excerpt

Love Read Listen              Review

I Love Romance Review

Bookish Things & More  Review

June 28th           

Suey Library        Review

Debbie’s World of Books              Excerpt

Travels N Reads Review

Seraphim Book Reviews Review

June 29th           

Naturally Nerdy Books   Excerpt

definitely, possibly, maybe           Review

Sweet Red Reads             Review

Star Crossed Book Blog  Review

June 30th           

My Slanted Bookish Ramblings    Review

Quesarasera Book Blog  Review

Miss Riki              Review

Reviews By Rah Review

July 1st

Bookaholic & Kindle        Review

Treat Yourself with Books            Review

Cathy Reads Books          Review

Rochelle’s Reviews          Review

July 2nd              

Shortie Says        Excerpt

TBR Book Blog   Review

Literary Misfit    Excerpt

Can’t Quit Books              Review

July 3rd

A Book Nerd, a Bookseller and a Bibliophile          Review

Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess            Review

July 4th

Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews             Review

We All Make Mistakes in books  Review

The Reading Cafe             Review

July 5th

The Librarian Talks          Excerpt

Romancing the Laser Pistol          Review

July 6th

BookGirl              Review

Harlie’s Books    Review

A Bookish Redhead          Review

July 7th

Sultry Sirens Book Blog  Review

SnoopyDoo’s Book Reviews         Excerpt

KatyaRath           Review

Gavinsmommaloves2read             Review

July 8th

I’m A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore          Review

Jax’s Book Magic              Excerpt

July 9th

Vivi’s Messy Kitchen        Review

Book Lovers Hangout      Review

Ramblings From This Chick           Excerpt

BOOK REVIEW: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa Tahir

BOOK REVIEW: A Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3) by Sabaa TahirA Reaper at the Gates (An Ember in the Ashes #3)
by Sabaa Tahir
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Beyond the Empire and within it, the threat of war looms ever larger.

The Blood Shrike, Helene Aquilla, is assailed on all sides. Emperor Marcus, haunted by his past, grows increasingly unstable, while the Commandant capitalizes on his madness to bolster her own power. As Helene searches for a way to hold back the approaching darkness, her sister's life and the lives of all those in the Empire hang in the balance.

Far to the east, Laia of Serra knows the fate of the world lies not in the machinations of the Martial court, but in stopping the Nightbringer. But while hunting for a way to bring him down, Laia faces unexpected threats from those she hoped would aid her, and is drawn into a battle she never thought she'd have to fight.

And in the land between the living and the dead, Elias Veturius has given up his freedom to serve as Soul Catcher. But in doing so, he has vowed himself to an ancient power that will stop at nothing to ensure Elias's devotion–even at the cost of his humanity.

Love cannot live here.

When one of your favorite authors in the world has a new book coming out, it generally becomes your whole world. You have laser focus. Books lose that quality that always seems to drag you in. You obsess and rant and annoy so many people, yet you just could care less-until the day comes and you finally have it in your hands and you can’t devour it quick enough. This is that book.

I just so happened to be one of those lucky Bloggers/Bookstagrammers that was a part of the Ember Re-Read tour, and with that came a wonderful perk-I got my beloved Elias book early. That’s right-I finished this book DAYS AGO. Like-before release. It was absolutely wonderful to not worry about spoilers and rabid fangirls (ahem…okay, shut up) ruining any moment of this for me. It was pure solitude and bliss.

“It…It hurts.”

Often when we finally get that book we so crave, it turns out to be a total stinker. Well, I can assure you, this is not the case, here. In fact, I absolutely ADORED IT. It’s been so hard for me lately because I feel as if I’m just so harsh on so many books. I really haven’t connected with too many stories because I just have found SO. MANY. AMAZING. BOOKS this past year that it’s hard for me to be wooed.

I wonder what he has become in the months we’ve been apart. Has he changed? Is he eating? Taking care of himself? Skies, I hope he has not grown a beard. I hated his beard.

I can even say that about an all time favorite series, The Red Queen. It just…somewhere along the way, this author lost me. Don’t get me wrong-there was a LOT to love about War Storm. But in King’s Cage, when she did some of the things she did….it just didn’t keep my interest. She hurt me in ways I can’t explain-Cal is my DARLING and I just think it was a case of trying to make so many female characters strong, that she almost backpedaled and made some of the more solid moments of the series all for not-just to prove ‘I female. I strong.’ I get it. We get it. But when a series can stand on it’s own two feet, can let the events and the perils and the companionship and mistakes mean something more-now that’s what I come for. These moments can be made into something amazing. Something HUGE. And you’re probably wondering why I’m prattling on about a totally different series-There’s a point, here.

Not often am I SO MAD AND LIVID AND ANGRY at an MC…just to forgive them. I don’t do this. I stay mad and angry and livid and what-have-you. But, somehow, Sabaa made Laia someone I adore. I loved her in book one, wanted to stab her [after what she did] in book two, and wanted to hug her in book three. Though, I transferred that hate to another female, but that’s okay. I’m always hating on someone 😉.

She made a strong, reliable girl that would do anything to save her people. To help them. TO SAVE THOSE GD children [that Sabaa clearly wants to maim and torture repeatedly-Lord help me]-even at the cost of her own life. I don’t know-I really don’t forgive easily. But here? I really did forgive Laia. And the Nightbringer…is it weird I really like him, too, now? Yes, crazy, I know. I’m crazy.

But even knowing what the Masks would have done, I do not wish to kill. I do not wish to belong to this world of blood and violence and vengeance. I do not wish to be a Mask.

My point with all that, though, is that even though there is SO MUCH GOING ON and so many characters and so much sadness (I cried so many times-and I rarely cry about books)….Sabaa makes each and every character SHINE. For example? Where my other boy was brought down to an almost sad loser (I still love him, don’t be fooled) by the author’s hand, Sabaa makes Elias an even stronger character-Laia is strong. Elias is strong. Yet-they hurt. They hurt. It hurts. Ugh-you’ll

I’ll go to them as Mask Veturius, dread Martial, soldier of the Empire. I’ll go to them as the estranged, murderous son of the Bitch of Blackcliff, as the monster who killed his friends and assassinated the Empire’s enemies as a child and who watched stonily as Yearlings were whipped to death before his eyes.
This time, I will not ask the jinn for help.
I will take it.

There wasn’t filler and nothing was unnecessary. OH!!! And I forgot about Helene!! MY GOD THAT GIRL GOES THROUGH SO MUCH IN THIS BOOK. I’m telling you-this book is all pain, I swear. Yet-She remains strong. She doesn’t forget her roots and she does everything in her power to save her people.

“Don’t you belittle me. I am the daughter of the Lioness. I destroyed Blackcliff. I saved the life of Elias Veturius. I survived Commandment Keris Veturia. I survived the betrayals of the Resistance and the Nightbringer. I crossed the Empire and broke into Kauf Prison. I rescued my brother and hundreds of other Scholars. I am not nothing.”

There is literally so much loyalty here. No bashing because someone made a choice-chose a different path-went their own way. These people have sacrificed everything-lost friends. Family. Loved ones. True loves. All for the greater good-all for those they love and can save. All the faults I felt in book two…they faded to ash. Yes, this book was heavy. Yes, there is a LOT of sadness. And yes, I wanted/needed/craved more Elias and Laia moments-but they were there. They were bittersweet, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. Their scenes meant something.

“You are cruel, Elias,” she whispers against my mouth. “To give a girl all she desires only to tear it away.”

I guess it’s time I say why this series means so much to me-Elias. I mean, is it any surprise, what with all my Elias appreciation posts and whatnot? Never has there been a more selfless hero. No, I’m not kidding. I think the closest thing that comes to mind is Peeta-TOTALLY different guy, situation, scenario, but he’d give it all up just for her. Both of them. Elias could ruin everything in one moment-for the whole world as he knows it-but he can’t give himself up completely if it means Laia will be hurt.

She looks like I feel: broken. I need to let her go. Fight the Nightbringer, I should say. Win. Find joy. Remember me. For why should she come back here? Her future is in the world of the living.

My heart. I just…CAN’T. He faces so many obstacles in this book I can’t describe or talk about, but just know that heavy is the head that wears the crown-and this applies so many different places. And can we just talk about how bad everything went for EVERYONE in this story?

The first time I killed, I was eleven. I saw my enemy’s face for days after he was gone. I heard his voice. And then I killed again. And again. And again. And again. Too soon, I stopped seeing their faces. I stopped wondering what their names were, or who they left behind. I killed because I was ordered to, and then, once free of Blackcliff, I killed because I had to, to stay alive.

It was one thing after another after another. I could hardly keep up with the pain and destruction. But I have to say-Helene’s, while her storyline has always been a favorite of mine, storyline became a LOT more interesting and, obviously, like everything else in this story, infinitely more heartbreaking.

“…One day soon, you will be tested, child. All that you cherish will burn. You will have no friends that day. No allies. No comrades in arms. On that day, your trust in me will be your only weapon.”

My one complaint: The Children. Why the children, Sabaa?? I couldn’t reconcile with this in my head. It made me ill and even days later my heart is heavy. It’s fair to say I’m more sensitive because I now have a nugget of my own, but at least two instances in this story hurt me-one broke my soul. I started blubbering to myself and my husband just stared at me like I was crazy. I don’t know if this warrants a lower rating or not, but I think have to deduct half a star because…wwwwWHHHHYYYyyyyy. You authors. You’re so mean lol.

I know I can die as Soul Catcher. But by the skies, I won’t die by the hand of a ghost-possessed Tribesman choking the life out of me while gibbering in my ear.

All in all, this book pretty much owns my soul-as does this series and this author (I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE YOU ON THE 20th WOOT!). I bet you’re surprised I didn’t fangirl about my boy more. Well-when all you do is fangirl about said boy for 6 months, you pretty much have room to gush about other things when the time comes. Y’all know he’s my husband. And you also know I would do ANTYHING to get more of him. For once, I’m not angry at an author for prolonging a series. Too often we see authors drag out a series that has no business going past 2/3 books (ahem, see above). But here? I see it. It wasn’t too much. Bad *stuff* had to happen…and here we are. Do I think it will all end okay? For some, yes. I think the world will be fine, in the end. Do I worry for Elias and Laia or just either of them separately, not as a couple? Yes. Yes I do. I don’t know what their end game is-Will Elias be okay? Will LAIA be okay? Who knows. What I doknow is that there are many heroic characters to root for here, not just the main two. And that? That’s something to celebrate, all by itself.

But again I imploringly ask: Why all the children, Sabaa? Why?? UGHHH.


How could you, Sabaa

The tears. They burn. It hurts. It hurts *finger pointy emoji*



Brag much?!

Reaper pics

Reaper pics

Did I mention I love Penguin Teen? And that Sabaa and I are besties?…..Didn’t think so 😛

Dearest Sabaa,

Let’s have a chat, you and I.

Upon the release of your Elias quote earlier this week for an A Reaper at the Gates preview, it has come to my attention that you intend to cause my main man grief-GOOD. The better for an epic love story.

“All things have a price, Elias Veturius. The price of saving her will haunt you for all your days. Will you pay it?”

However. We both know you don’t really want to hurt him, now do you? That’s what I thought.

We’re both rational book [boyfriend] loving gals who could kick it around town whilst singing the praises of all our favorite men and the peril they go through to save their true loves.

Because that’s all it is, right? A story? You’d never actually hurt my baby Elias (my book husband (among many, but this is neither here nor there), thank you)-it’s all for the beauty of the story and the theatrics of it all.

So we’ll continue to have these wholly fictional chats over drinks, over nights out on the town, over coffee (or, in my case, Mountain Dew)…

But if you so much as hurt a hair on my Elias’s precious little head (more so than you already have), our alliance is severed and I cut all ties to our fictional friendship.

I’m sorry, but rules are rules, and you can’t double cross a friend after you [fictionally] promised to keep a character safe. You can’t double cross on the safety of a loved one.

So-Here’s hoping you choose to do the SMART thing. The RATIONAL thing. Don’t make me abduct you for ransom. I don’t want to have to do this-you don’t want me to have to do that, do you? Of course you don’t. Do you want me to cry?

Of course not.


Chelsea-Forever your biggest fan
AKA Psycho BBF Girl Who Will Go To Drastic Measures To Ensure Her Boys Survive

Welcome Post: Say hello to my dearest friend, Cassie!

I am SO beyond honored to be introducing one of my ‘REAL LIFE’ best friends in the whole world to the blog-Cassie!

It’s so funny to think that Cassie and I met randomly at a spin class we both went to after work-only TWICE a week! We sat on total opposite sides of the room from one another, which just goes to show you how big of a loud mouth I am (and apparently she is, too, since here we are today lol). One day I randomly yelled something across the room to her (she seemed nice enough?) and she smiled and yelled right back…while everyone else stared at us. Losers didn’t know what they were missing out on 😉. Not the most lively group, they weren’t.

After class we met up and decided to sit together for the next class-and so it began. The next time we got to class-somehow, and I’ve no clue how-the conversation of books came up. I’m almost positive it went like this:


Cassie: Yadda yadda yadda and finished up a book I’m reading



Cassie: Red Queen?


Cassie: No. I don’t like Cal-I LOVE HIM!



Chelsea: ……..
And Maven?

Cassie: Nah, I just don’t understand why people are so obsessed with him!

And the rest was history.

I soon learned she’s a thriller book junkie (yikes) and that she loved some of the same YA fantasy books that I did, and that she loved recommendations. Since then we’ve bonded over books, book boys, and whining about our husbands together. And, really, what else do you need? I hope you all grow to adore her just like I do!

Better yet? NO MAVEN LOVIN’ THERE! Muahahaha

Here’s what Cassie has to say about herself ♥

Hi! I’m Cassie and I’m a dog and cat mom and wife to my wonderful husband. I’m from the United States but love to travel for both work and leisure. I’m a pop music junkie (late 90’s/early 2000’s preferably) and enjoy Netflix-binging and putting my MoviePass card to work. I love diet coke, chapstick, cruelty-free beauty and listening to true crime podcasts (hello Murderinos!)

But I also LOVE to read. I always have, but these past two years I have been obsessed. My favorite genres are mystery/thrillers and young adult. I will read books outside these genres (I’m a sucker for a good celebrity memoir or GOOD contemporary romance), but I just drawn to these two genres the most. A common theme in my favorite books is a strong female lead character. She absolutely can have flaws (I encourage it!) and struggle and make wrong choices, but as long as she can ultimately persevere and learn from the past, I’m a happy gal. A good romance to go with it doesn’t hurt either, especially of the slow burn or hate-to-love variety. I’m ok with a good love triangle, but keep any kind of insta-love away from me.
I’m so thankful for this opportunity to join these wonderful women at the Star-Crossed Book Blog. I’ve been a follower of theirs for awhile now and am so excited to join this amazing team and share my love for all things books. My favorite authors are Victoria Aveyard, Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbot, Lauren Oliver, Megan Miranda and V.E. Schwab to name just a few!


BOOK REVIEW: Trick (Foolish Kingdoms #1) by Natalia Jaster

BOOK REVIEW: Trick (Foolish Kingdoms #1) by Natalia JasterTrick (Foolish Kingdoms #1)
by Natalia Jaster
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


There is a rule amongst his kind: A jester doesn’t lie.

In the Kingdom of Spring, Poet is renowned. He’s young and pretty, a lover of men and women. He performs for the court, kisses like a scoundrel, and mocks with a silver tongue.

Yet allow him this: It’s only the most cunning, most manipulative soul who can play the fool.

For Poet guards a secret.

One the Crown would shackle him for. One that he’ll risk everything to protect.

Alas, it will take more than clever words to deceive Princess Briar.

Convinced that he’s juggling lies as well as verse, this righteous nuisance of a girl is determined to expose him.

But not all falsehoods are fiendish. Poet’s secret is delicate, binding the jester to the princess in an unlikely alliance—and kindling a breathless attraction, as alluring as it is forbidden.

*Mature young adult/new adult: sexual content and language. For readers 17 and older.*


“Steadfast sure girl, sweet noble thorn,
how lovely-cruel you are.
My body’s taut, my soul is worn,
from the lovely-cruel you are.
The highborn chose the lowest born,
’tis the lovely-cruel you are.
This trick unseen, this fated scorn,
of the lovely-cruel you are.
So when you leave, I shall us mourn,
the lovely-cruel we are.”

What is there to say, really, when you fall head over heels for a book that you didn’t even realize existed??? I picked this up after my friend told me she was sure I’d love it. Was I skeptical? No, not really. Do I trust this person? Absolutely. Was there any doubt I’d love this? Not in the least.

Yet, here we are, and me telling you that, at the beginning…I really didn’t care for this book at all. I liked the opening chapter-it was loud, alluring…mesmerizing. It grabbed onto me with just the short little bit it was. But, once I poured deeper into the story, long after the wicked words our Jester boasted and hooked me line and sinker with, I grew weary. And, frankly, distant. Not because I didn’t love what was going on-I did, truly. But his manner of speech waxed way too poetic (HAR) for me to really grip my claws into his character and see what he was really about.

Tumble inspected me with beady-eyed criticism.
“What?” I asked. “Does my masterpiece clash too much?”
The ferret squeaked.
“Certainly, but you try making the four kingdoms harmonize into one motif.”
He squeaked again.

It felt like a front. It felt like, even as the readers who got to be inside his head every other/few chapters, were held at an arm’s length-and I didn’t like it. Because, in the rare moments he and the princess got together, I felt like they were wasted with the precious breath being tainted by rhymes and riddles and regal-type talk. And, ultimately, I began to disengage and became disappointed. I mean, it felt like it was all smoke and mirrors. Little did I know-that was the whole point.

Whether all of it was intentional or not, I’ll never know. But, riddle me this (muahaha Poet has stolen my heart!)-why is it that, after a certain point in this book (and, really, despite what I said earlier, it wasn’t that far in) literally everything changed because of one moment?

Yet none of these skills can steel the heart, nor protect it from breaking. Recently, I’ve learned that lesson well. So let me tell you a tale of how I lost a battle of wills.
Not to my King. Not to my Queen.
Nay. I lost to a girl.

Enchanting doesn’t even BEGIN to describe the way I felt after…things…but that’s exactly how I felt: enchanted. Poet ripped off his mask, or his makeup, mind you, and we saw beneath the carefully placed veneer he’d built up so no one would see what was underneath.

“My opinion? A fool is a man who believes glory can be found at the tip of a sword instead of on the tip of his tongue. ’Tis a woman who judges with her eyes closed. ’Tis people who invent aberrations from speculation and rumors. ’Tis bred from ignorance. That is life’s cruel trick.”

I think it worth mentioning that, while I had briefly skimmed the synopsis after Britt told me to read this, I really hadn’t read it thoroughly once I’d finished the book I was on, and purchased the kindle book sight unseen. If you can’t have trust in your closest friends, who can you trust? As I mentioned, though, this might be the reason as to why I was so easily fooled by the, well, Fool.

I’m the finest jest you’ll ever know. If you irritate me, I’ll best you with words, for swords are the toys of knights, whilst I use more creative weapons.

My heart melted at the Poet beneath. I became a puddle of goo and a swarm of butterflies all mixed into one, making for a totally weird concoction I can’t begin to fathom a name for. I kid you not, this was like a
totally different book
…because we saw what made Poet tick-and so did the Princess.

“No, of course. But that day when we arrived home, you imitated those jesters for hours, twirling from rock to rock in the grass. And when you fell—”
“I stumbled.”
“—and scraped yourself raw, I never saw the like when I dabbed a wet cloth on your knees. You howled bloody murder.”
My elbow hit the table as I pointed at her. “That part never happened.”

She saw the side to him that had only been hinted at, from the beginning. She saw how kind and wonderful, sweet and brave he was. She saw the loyalty and devotion and determination that ran rivers deep in Poet’s fractured and frantic soul-and so the forbidden tryst began.

I couldn’t say whether Mother was still talking. As we crossed into his line of vision, Poet became aware of me and tensed, his shoulder blades locking.
The crease of his spine. The waist that tapered and then rounded into a solid backside.
Anticipation flared. But he kept advising the girl, sparing me not a glance.
Not until the distance between us grew again.
We craned our heads over our shoulders, our eyes smoldering.

I’ll admit I became a total ninny for everything Poet and Briar henceforth-They were the puppet masters and I their puppet, strung along by the strings of their sordid and heartbreaking affair. I rooted for them with every ounce of my being-even as I wished for the turmoil that was surely to come.

“And don’t think I believe that drivel about you and Poet. You hate each other, you say? Hate is a miserable thing. That’s neither of you. He’s an active lad, born with a voice to spice tarts, but those tarts never made him blush. That isn’t hate, so have a care.”

WHAT. I’m a hot-blooded, fangirling bookish female-fine and dandy just don’t DO IT FOR ME. Anymore, that is. Whatever. I needed some strife, and strife I got. It was wonderful and sordid (yes, repeat repeat wah wah) and hot and wrong-the chemistry set the pages on fire and my heart right along with them.

I nodded to her. Let me do the lying.
She looked away. Good girl.
Bad boy. I still wanted to kiss her.

And when Poet crumbled-my heart and soul did, as well. I just-I truly loved this story and I’m wholly invested in everything to do with it. I’ll admit I’m shocked more people haven’t latched onto this-it really is a remarkable story with a storybook feel (a dirty storybook, I’ll have you:

My damp, thickened breath. A thrust of heavy-lidded lightning. A deep-rooted, thigh-clenching ache in intimate places.

) and a fairytale vibe. The writing was impeccable and the length not too long nor too short, with a gradual build up that makes you beg for more and simultaneously yearn for it to never end, and a climax that tears at your very being.

“The greatest courage a person can have is to love another, for there are only two outcomes. Either the love lasts, and our lives are compromised, or it doesn’t, and our lives are emptied. Either way, we suffer more than we celebrate. I’ve enjoyed suffering with you. We are a tale for campfires. That is all. That is everything.”

Again, I don’t praise many books highly. In fact, there are only 4-6 books out of the 20 or so I’ve read this year that really and truly stand out, and this is, by far, one of them-and one of the best. I have high standards and have read some of my favorite books of all time in the last couple of months-and this one?? This one helped me escape my rabid obsession with two of them-the likes of which have made me a total moron who harasses everyone to read them. This book wouldn’t have had half the heart without Poet’s secret, a secret I normally am not a fan of in books. So… it must have been done well, right? And this story is so much deeper than a romance, which shocked me. It actually had wonderful morals and heart and a depth so intense it stole my breath. Vehemently represented by those with most stake in the matter, this author showed an amazing skill to write about more than just smexy encounters, hidden hallway rendezvous, and stolen looks and touches-though, those were some of my favorite parts ;). Friendship and family and loyalties and learning your place in life-it’s all there. And it’s all wonderfully handled.

A fool is a man who sees his worth in a mirror, in the faces of a crowd, but is blind to it elsewhere. Where it most counts: in the eyes of those he loves and who love him. Don’t insult yourself that way.”

So, give it a try. Really. It’s fun and flirty and romantic and original and tugs on your heartstrings. I don’t think it’ll be for everybody (if only because of random things I care not name), but I think it’s for most. It’s wonderful and addicting and painful to put down-if the purple bags I’m sporting under my eyes today are any indication of my late night reading rampage. Poet and Briar and other characters I dare not to name gripped me in ways I never expected -and I hope they’ll grip you, too.

Oh, and a special shout out to my main ferret, Tumble-a favorite character by far :P.

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