Author: Chelsea (Peril Please) (Page 1 of 103)

BOOK REVIEW: All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains #1) by Amanda Foody

BOOK REVIEW: All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains #1) by Amanda FoodyAll of Us Villains by Amanda Foody
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


The blockbuster co-writing debut of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman, All of Us Villains begins a dark tale of ambition and magick...

You Fell In Love With The Victors of The Hunger Games.
Now Prepare To Meet The Villains of The Blood Veil.

After the publication of a salacious tell-all book, the remote city of Ilvernath is thrust into worldwide spotlight. Tourists, protesters, and reporters flock to its spellshops and ruins to witness an ancient curse unfold: every generation, seven families name a champion among them to compete in a tournament to the death. The winner awards their family exclusive control over the city’s high magick supply, the most powerful resource in the world.

In the past, the villainous Lowes have won nearly every tournament, and their champion is prepared to continue his family’s reign. But this year, thanks to the influence of their newfound notoriety, each of the champions has a means to win. Or better yet--a chance to rewrite their story.

But this is a story that must be penned in blood.


**I’m being extremely honest here when I say that grammar took a SERIOUS hit in the name of purging my emotions- ALSO- ARC PROVIDED BY TORTEEN IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW**

Grins like goblins.
Pale as plague and silent as spirits.
They’ll tear your throat and drink your soul.

That feeling of dread slowly inching up your spine is not the emotion nor the feeling I had imagined I’d experience when I started this novel. The vague sensation of helplessness that comes with the realization that you are not in control of this novel, this novel will not bend to your will, and you WILL be in pain as you see yourself slowly maddening at the fact that you WILL have to wait more than a year to see these characters through to their gory end. The utter calm [and a bit unhinged] madness that inhabits you when you realize- You don’t like that you have to wait for a very long time to see what happens…but you do love this brutal love song written just for you and all the evil things your now favorite character is doing to write said song. You don’t just like it-you love it.

“Do you hear that?” The older one, Hendry Lowe, stood up, brushed the forest floor off his gray T-shirt, cracked each of his knuckles, one by one. “That’s the sound of rules breaking.”
“Do you hear that?” Alistair echoed, smirking as he rose to his feet. “That’s the sound of bones breaking.”

This story wasn’t what I expected. And, that being said, I don’t know what I expected. Did I think it would be akin to my favorite series of all time, THG? No. I didn’t. Did I really think it would be about actual villains? No. And did I think it would hold up to any of my macabre fantasies when I imagined reading it? Heck no. But…It was BETTER. It was MORE. No matter what my mind could have dreamed up, it wasn’t this-never this. And that’s just…it’s a breath of fresh air. Look, I like predictability a lotthere are certain formulas you just cannot beat, no matter what you do, in my opinion. That’s me. But the fact remains that when I go into a book with no idea what to expect and it delivers with such ferocity-I hardly know how to contain myself. And that is this. I am in shock. I am in awe. I am so grateful for TorTeen for thinking of me, for sending me what is now a prized possession in my treasure trove of my absolute favorite stories. Even though I can’t even quite pinpoint what clicked for me-it just did.

Monsters couldn’t harm you if you were a monster, too.

I think it goes without saying that characters are key, especially in a book with such a dark theme-Yeah…villains. Okay. But why. WHY are they villains? The answer is simple-they really aren’t. And herein lies my largest conundrum: Why I am so defensive of my precious book? Because people are so judgmental. I thought each and every character had something dark about them (even if it wasn’t on the surface, but lurking far beneath)-but most of these klds-which they are just kids, in the end-were just pawns in their family’s lineage to grasp high magick for them to horde until the next tournament…And the family that possesses the high magick runs the town.

Like I said-I’m here for it. These characters-to me-were, in fact, villains. Maybe not the twirling your mustache kind, but they all had deeply disturbing ideologies and would do anything and everything to reach what they deemed necessary in their own mind’s eye: to either make a name for themselves, to gain glory, to earn a spot in the tournament (ie, beat out the other contenders in the family), to prove their worth, or to avenge-I won’t expand on that. Avenge is plenty good. My point remains valid-villains are what we make them, not always by what they actually do. And that is this tournament – seven families putting forth someone in their name, the town always viewing these families as evil, corrupt souls (well…maybe mostly just one family), or bottom-dwellers, attention seekers, or soul-suckers. Fact is, heavy is the head that wears the crown-and everyone wants a piece of it.

The Lowes did not tell their children monster stories so that they could slay them.
The Lowes told them so their children would become monsters themselves.

Of the four point of views, there are two that always always made me happy, sigh in relief, and really immerse: Isobel and Alistair. And then there was just ONE that made my heart beat faster, my mouth dry up, and my insides clench in dread, anticipation, and hope…and anyone that knows me at all knows that would be Alistair Lowe. Predictable, anyone? I. Don’t. Care.

Alistair’s fear wasn’t for his life, but for his mind. Even the most villainous Lowe victors left the tournament changed, broken. But Alistair refused to accept such a fate. No matter how brutal, how terrible he’d need to be, he couldn’t let himself care. Not about the other champions. Not about his soul.
He needed to become the most villainous of them all.

Look, Alistair is the clear favored champion-the one everyone knows has the best chance of winning and the favorite of the tournament…but really that makes him enemy number one and everyone also hates him and wants to gang together and make him dead and cease to exist and wants to steal his family’s smarmy glory. But the fact is, though he is among the wickedest of the contenders, he is also cool, calculated, and able to see reason-which many of the champions fail to do because they trust only what they know and what they’ve been taught, they can’t read between the lines and dig deeper within themselves to see a bigger picture, a deeper picture. And what does Alistair have to lose? NOTHING. Which makes him DANGEROUS. Makes it easy for him to lean back, relax, and fight the predictable and inevitable tide of people allying against him-except one.

“Hello, rival,” he whispered.

Isobel was not only my other favorite because she was closely connected with Alistair (And I will admit I was like the Pavlov dog becoming immediately butterfly-induced by simple association, shut up), but because her chapters fit. They just fit with my mindset like Alistair’s did. Was this intentional? Were we meant to favor them? I’m sure. I wouldn’t call Al the most relatable, but he was someone you rooted for simply because others didn’t like him and obviously he was the misunderstood bad boy-obviously. But Isobel didn’t care to be a champion, she only did it to keep others out of the fray and because she is the best at magick-her cool demeanor pre-tournament and haughty confidence was enough to snare me even without the help of a certain dark, brooding bad boy. I have a type, and these two were it. I’m predictable, but in this, I’m also sane.

“You want to know something funny?” he asked. “In a choice between staying here or going home, I’d still choose here. With you.”

The other contenders were easy to read about, as well-Briony being my likely third favorite due to her positive outlook and loyalty to her optimistic cause….then there was Gavin. I see him being a fan favorite (for those who are not like me and did not fall easily for the widow-peeked, pale, genius prodigy) but I couldn’t get on board with his motives or the way he processed things. I like an underdog, which also, coincidentally, likely makes him a bad boy or tortured hero as well, but deep down he had a bit more rot, perhaps more decay, and that was harder for me to acceptThese characters are layered far more than I gave them credit for, so that makes this hard to say, but in the end I couldn’t root for him, no matter his life nor his choices. That being said, I didn’t hate his chapters nor did I skim them as I do in books where I don’t entirely cherish a character as I do my favorites-that has to be noted for these authors to understand how deeply they reached me. I am a flawed reader, but I can be won over.

Innes had called the tournament a pattern. Patterns could be disrupted.
Reid had called it a machine. Machines could be broken.
Briony had only ever thought of it as a fairy tale. But even the grandest stories eventually found their ending.

And now that I’ve rambled on for literal AGES I’ll get to the actual story-I just. For many moments in this book, I just couldn’t breathe. The heartache, the yearn, the fear, the not-knowing. And then there were so many moments, something I’m not accustomed to, where I frowned or furrowed my brow at the page, where I wondered just what I was reading and why it was assaulting my senses in such a manner. A certain blood bath, an inevitable, heinous act, the deaths, the…well…moment that may or may not have ripped my beating heart from my chest and incinerated it (and, for once, I wasn’t sure I liked it). Oh, who am I kidding-I LOVED IT, and the end, naturally. My smile-my smile couldn’t have been larger, my heart couldn’t have beat any faster, and my stomach couldn’t have been in more of a butterfly tornado. This story, it hurt me in all the best ways possible, which makes me wonder just what’s wrong with me that these are my favorite types of stories and I seek these horrendous plots out.

If he was truly a monster, then why was he so afraid?

I always say I want bad things to happen and my name even boasts peril-but I found that-when it comes down to it-I don’t actually like when terrible things happen to people. And I guess that’s not the same as ‘perilous situations’, because those rarely can always be so dire, but the actual gore of it…it gets to me. In fact, for the first time ever, my blood trigger appeared seemingly out of nowhere (this never happens when I read) and my hands went numb and I physically couldn’t hold my book and had to lay it down for a moment. I really and truly wish for the madness, then when the madness comes slowly crawling to me, I back away and cringe-I’d make a horrendous villain. Truly.

After they’d slain all the other champions-her ex-best friend among them-it would only be the two of them left. Maybe that would be months from now. Maybe it would be days. But that was what this alliance led up to. Not a kiss stolen in the dark, or a priceless gift given without being asked.
A duel.

I must say one last thing before I depart-if you’re even still here with me, reading my nonsensical rambling- I am so big on character driven books, which I think I’ve mentioned no less than five times in one way or another as I type out this review, and this is a perfect example- I don’t think this was the most action packed book, but I think where it lacked (and I say lacked for loss of a better word) in lots of action, it gained in connecting with the characters so when something happened or was mentioned, we felt instead of riding along beside it. I think this is the biggest execution flaw in some of these popular series that gain so much momentum-they win us in book one and two, then throw in so much action in book three that I personally lose interest and forget the whole series even existed when, before, my world centered around said series. So I think subtlety is key-every bad moment, every sacrifice, any betrayal, any shortcoming, they mean so much more when staring down the barrel of these characters’ wants, needs, plans, desires. We care so much MORE when the battle comes because we had time to immerse ourselves, and I think that is so important here, and perhaps why I am just so elated I had the opportunity to read this novel and go in blind before others start to talk about it (but also, what a curse).

I went on and on and on and for that I’m sorry, but these emotions have been brewing inside of me for over 24 hours and I needed to purge everything epic that is this book. These authors ensnared me with simple words and a brooding, tortured boy, but they kept me because of the choices they made, the way they shocked and surprised me at each and every turn, if only because they didn’t do the typical (and sometimes they did, further confusing me more), and the way they captured my heart and soul. That’s truly not an easy thing to do-I may bluster and boast that I love giving out 5 stars to books that make me happy, but a true five star is one that can capture my heart and wind it’s way into my daily routine, invading my thoughts even when I don’t want them to-that’s this book, and I’m so happy to be ordering a copy to support these authors as soon as I’m able-with a certain special personalization, of course ;).

*This is an uncorrected proof, so quotes are subject to change*

BOOK REVIEW: OUR VIOLENT ENDS (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe Gong

BOOK REVIEW: OUR VIOLENT ENDS (These Violent Delights #2) by Chloe GongOur Violent Ends (These Violent Delights #2)
by Chloe Gong
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


Shanghai is under siege in this captivating and searingly romantic sequel to These Violent Delights, which New York Times bestselling author Natasha Ngan calls “deliciously dark.”

The year is 1927, and Shanghai teeters on the edge of revolution.

After sacrificing her relationship with Roma to protect him from the blood feud, Juliette has been a girl on the warpath. One wrong move, and her cousin will step in to usurp her place as the Scarlet Gang’s heir. The only way to save the boy she loves from the wrath of the Scarlets is to have him want her dead for murdering his best friend in cold blood. If Juliette were actually guilty of the crime Roma believes she committed, his rejection might sting less.

Roma is still reeling from Marshall’s death, and his cousin Benedikt will barely speak to him. Roma knows it’s his fault for letting the ruthless Juliette back into his life, and he’s determined to set things right—even if that means killing the girl he hates and loves with equal measure.

Then a new monstrous danger emerges in the city, and though secrets keep them apart, Juliette must secure Roma’s cooperation if they are to end this threat once and for all. Shanghai is already at a boiling point: The Nationalists are marching in, whispers of civil war brew louder every day, and gangster rule faces complete annihilation. Roma and Juliette must put aside their differences to combat monsters and politics, but they aren’t prepared for the biggest threat of all: protecting their hearts from each other.


*Arc provided by SimonTeen in exchange for an honest review-And I literally cannot thank them enough as they have made my whole year*

“You destroy me and then you kiss me. You give me a reason to hate you and then you give me a reason to love you. Is this a lie or the truth? Is this a ploy or your heart reaching for me?”

I am going to be frank right up front: A book hasn’t caused such a deep, emotional, and visceral reaction out of me in a very long time. I eagerly awaited the moment I could dive back inside myself, immerse myself into this lush, enriched world of enemies to lovers. I lost sleep waiting and pining and anticipating what fate my beloveds were dealt…and I only had to wait a few weeks. So I can’t even imagine what my frowny French friend feels, how she deals with the wait on a daily basis. Because I have to say it-My heart couldn’t possibly have waited any longer, it had too many questions and needed far too many answers. And this author? She delivers.

Juliette was not frightened. If anything, she was only resentful-not at Roma, but at herself. At wanting to lean in even while Roma was actively trying to kill her. At this distance between them that she had willingly manufactured, because they had been born into two families at war, and she would rather die at Roma’s hand than be the cause of his death.

I am SUCH a final book snob. One minute duologies are my favorite, the next, trilogies. Then sometimes standalones. And, I have to say, standalones sometimes keep my heart the longest-though they are far and few between-because there is little margin for overthinking/overwriting/underwhelming endings. It’s all wrapped up in a neat little package all at once. But here, now, Gong has showed just how amazing and well-done a duology can be. How, if done correctly, it delivers great impact in smaller quantity. How, if she CHOSE to expand the universe, to connect with MORE people without dragging it on too long, she could easily pick a less explored side character and create a whole new spin-off without everyone already being exhausted with it (Can anyone rejoice this is, in fact, happening?). Gong restored my faith in books. She restored my faith in how I can be addicted and pine and hope for a certain path to be taken and for the author to write certain things, it not go my way (I am veryyyy picky with my romance and enemies to lovers and peril), and STILL love how it goes. Not one thing felt forced. Not one moment blemished by rushing and trying to fit everything in. It all felt real, it felt natural. That is the mark of a true author. THAT is how you create forever fans. THAT is how you CRUSH the YA world.

And with that realization, it should be no secret that Roma and Juliette own my soul. Not a week goes by that I don’t reminisce over my favorite moments between them-the what-ifs, the pain and longing and anger, the imminent danger that continually brings them together. Not a moment passes without the crescendo of chaos crashing in around them, melding into the most perfect storm raging inside my heart. These two are a couple that are so deeply rooted into one another, into me, that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget them, even for a second.

Gone are the games of book one. Blood has been shed, lines have been drawn, sides have been chosen. The masks are back in place and their hearts are no longer on their sleeves-betrayal has cut deep and Roma can’t see past the pain and heartache that Juliette has caused…he also still can’t fully believe it. Thus begins the tragic circling of one another as they have to work together-again-against a common enemy for the greater good.

He thought her a monster. He thought she had hated him the whole time, so viciously that she would destroy everything he loved, and he had to think that if he was to keep his life. Juliette refused to drag him down just because she was weak-willed.

I truly loved these two for more than their romance, though-Juliette became this girl that I loved so deeply in my heart, because even though it hurt to not see eye to eye with everyone, with her own familyshe followed her heart to do what was just and right. She cared more for her people, for her city, than she did for an ancient blood feud that had no end in sight. That didn’t allow her to be with the love of her life. She cared more for Roma, his sister, the friends she made, and even her cousins, more than something as petty as being a gang leader-in the end, love and hope and the unknown were more important than upholding a reign of terror that was shredding the city apart, piece by piece, no side truly safe.

“This is Scarlet territory.” Her words were even, but it took everything in her to keep them that way. “You forget yourself.”
Roma grew still. He stared at her, utterly unreadable as the moment drew long-long enough that Juliette almost thought he would surrender.
Only then Roma leaned into the blade instead, leaned until the metal was pressed right into his neck, one hairsbreadth away from breaking skin and drawing blood.
“Then do it,” Roma hissed. He sounded angry….He sounded pained. “Kill me.”

And Roma-He was far darker in this story and, clearly, that only made me love him more. Is this a flaw in me? No. It is the BEST part of me…I LOVE a good moral dilemma within a character, and when Juliette broke his heart, it opened a dark chasm inside of him that made him question everything he knew about the girl he had always fought side by side with. But that’s just it- he knows her inside and out-at least he thought he did, and nothing adds up. From her actions in book one to her complete lack of doing what he’d expect time and time again, she remains someone he can’t figure out. But they are enemies once again, regardless, and he needs to eliminate her. End of story. But that’s easier said than done as he misses opportunities time and again, never fully able to do what needs to be done to rest his broken soul. But once it’s done it cannot be undone, and that is what truly haunts him.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that if someone loved book one, they are going to devour book two. The pain, the heartache, the lead up to an inevitable end…it’s so deliberately and deliciously evil that I couldn’t help but fall head over heels for each stolen moment they shared, every future within grasp but hate nipping at their heels, no one content to let them be free, and each stolen moment that slipped from my greedy claws, keeping me on my toes and pining for more-always more-in their battle to do what’s right for their city…while also selfishly trying to escape to a world where they can be free to love one another openly for the rest of their lives. I don’t know about you, but I see myself reading these books over and over until the end of time, and I don’t think I could ever find a flaw. Period.




If you don’t ever hear from me again, it’s because I drowned in a puddle of my feels. Kay bye.

BOOK REVIEW: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe Gong

BOOK REVIEW: These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1) by Chloe GongThese Violent Delights (These Violent Delights #1)
by Chloe Gong
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

**arc provided by Riveted by Simon Teen in exchange for an honest review**

His words had a physical force to them-multiple stinging hits that struck her skin. Juliette could hardly breathe, never mind find the energy to speak, to continue, the staged whispers of their screaming match. She hated him so much. She hated that he was right. She hated that he was inciting this reaction in her. And most of all, she hated that she had to hate him, because if she didn’t, the hatred would turn right back in herself and there would be nothing to hate except her own weak will.

So few books surprise me these days. It’s not simply because I’ve seen it or read it before, but more that delivery is such a special thing, a delicate thing. It can be done well frequently, and I always-almost always-love my tired and true tropes. But then there are the times when an author tweaks it just right, twists a scene, a revelation, a reveal in a whole new way, a burst of shining light that blinds you behind even your closed eyelids. Those are the authors who wow you. Those are the authors that stick with you. THOSE are the authors that knock you out of your seat…that shock you. And that is me-here. Now. Forever. Because Roma and Juliette may be the ultimate cliche (And I have and always and forever will be a fan of it)…but never in my life have I been so moved by it, and never in my life have I seen it done so beautifully monstrous.

The warning that radiates from such a sound is not a deniable sensation. It is not the sort of paranoia one feels when they think they are being followed down an abandoned junction; nor is it the sort of panic that ensues when a floorboard creaks in a house thought empty. It is solid, tangible-it almost exudes a moisture into the air, a weight pressing down on bare skin. It is a threat as obvious as a gun to the face, and yet there is a moment of inaction, a moment of hesitation.

I knew the moment I picked this up that it was special. That’s crazy, but its true. For reference, I text not one, not two, but THREE friends after two pages and said just that: This is fresh. This is new. This was made just for me (save, the bugs). This is unique. Because it was. It was made just for me. The drama without being dramatic. The intrigue without the info-dump. The irony of a monstrous book being beautifully written. The subtle perils. And, obviously, the tortured, misunderstood, star-crossed lovers romance. Hook. Line. Sinker.

For months they flirted and pretended and toed the line between enemy and friend, both knowing who the other was but neither admitting to it, both trying to gain something from this friendship but being uncareful, falling too deep without knowing.

But, somehow, its even more than that. A friend mentioned this book to me and, honestly, I pushed it off. It looked good, but it hadn’t been on my radar and I’m just now back on my regular reading schedule-I am being delightfully picky, because I can. Because I missed out on so many books in the past three years because of life and children and many tired nights. But then I was approached by a publishing contact and was shortly after given the wondrous opportunity to feature this book on all my platforms…and I got a feeling deep in my gut I needed to read this as soon as possible. Don’t ask me why, I just knew. Deep in my bones, I knew. This book was going to really be something, and I couldn’t wait to discover it-uncover what made it so alluring.

“We are not kids anymore, Tyler. And if you are to threaten me with outrageous accusations, then you will answer for them.”
A soft laugh. “How so?” Tyler rasped. “Will you kill me right here in the hallway? Ten paces away from the breakfast table?”
Juliette pressed the knife in deeper. A stream of blood started down her cousin’s cheek, trailed into the lines of her palm, dripped along her arm.
Tyler had stopped laughing.
“I am the heir of the Scarlet Gang,” Juliette said. Her voice had grown just as sharp as her weapon. “And believe me, tangdi, I will kill you before I let you take it from me.”

And it’s really simple. This book was just a well-written, fast-paced, strong characters, enemies-to-lovers smorgasbord of a contagion mystery that I clearly wasn’t prepared for. I really and truly had no idea it would be so heavily…itchy. My skin crawled with the vivid imagery and masterfully in-depth descriptions. This book truly made you feel as though you were a part of it, that you, too, were about to rip your throat to shreds with the madness. Oh-side note-this book is NOT for the squeamish or people with entomophobia. You will not like this. My head STILL itches as I write this review a night after the conclusion. Pity, though, because underneath all that chaos, there is utter beauty on each and every page.

Roma was a liar through and through-his tactics of persuasion knew no bounds.
When Roma came out, however, it was immediately clear in the slouch of his head that he hadn’t gotten what he wanted.
“Don’t look so smug,” he whispered while Juliette passed him.
“That’s just my face,” she hissed back.

And, even more than that, the depth of this novel lies in the cast of characters Gong has created. Obviously there are the two rival families, just like Romeo and Juliet, and the details, for me, are fuzzy because it was something I read in High School, but it all felt so detailed and imaginative and a wonderful homage to the namesake it is loosely based off of. The friendships, the trust, the betrayals among this group of friends, old lovers, and family swept me in and kept me captive…but the real heart-stoppers were my beloved Juliette and loyal Roma…obviously.

Memories were beastly little creatures, after all-they rose with the faintest whiff of nourishment.

I’ll admit I waited on a bated breath to see what had torn these two apart. The looks, the touches, the betrayal in their hearts and the accusations in their eyes. It was clear they were far from over, yet couldn’t find trust or reason in the other. Juliette, known to be ruthless in the name of family and her gang, was hurt years ago by Roma, the leader of her rival gang, and she thinks she has recovered from it…when clearly she is like any other girl. She can act tough. She can act like she doesn’t need him or want him or cherish their past time together, but, in the end, at the faintest moment of his undivided attention, her heart stutters and she feels herself weakening…but she’d never let him know that.

The pain of it was almost physical. The years had worn on between them, had aged them into monsters with human faces, unrecognizable against old photos. Yet no matter how much she wanted to forget, it was like no time had passed at all.

And I think that’s the crux of it for me-these two clearly have feelings for one another but can’t seem to find trust enough to show their feelings. This kind of heart-wrenching dynamic is what I live for-They would do anything for one another, but they won’t show their hands, they skirt around half-truths and pretty lies to keep the other at arms’ length…and I am totally here for it. The switch of POV from Juliette to Roma back to Juliette gives the most amazing depth and so many layers of perception, all leading up to the crescendo that is their past confronting them in the most pivotal, daring, and dangerous moments. It made my heart sing to see ugly truths spill, to see destruction and chaos rain down upon them as they confessed their deepest truths. And, even still, keeping their worst and darkest moments in their back pocket.

A long time ago, Roma had told Juliette that her anger was like a cold diamond. It was something she could swallow smoothly, something to be placed upon other people, gliding along their skin in glitter and glamour before they realized far too late that the diamond had sliced them into pieces. He had admired her for it. Mostly because his own anger was the precise opposite-an uncontrollable wave of fire that knew no subtlety.
And it had arrived.

To say this book made my soul ignite with light and emanate from within would be an understatement, and to imply it was anything less than extraordinary would be selling it short. I can’t comprehend how or why this book spoke so deeply to me or why it enraptured me so, but it did, and the moment I started it I felt everything click, and everything just felt right. It’s not often I start a book and the first few moments pull me in and I know I’m going to love it right then and there, but when it does it’s nothing short of a miracle and I take it to heart, because it’s just. So. Rare.

Roma‘s control was slipping through his fingers like fine grains of sand. When he closed his fist, there were almost no grains left for him to hold on to. His hands were almost empty.


It was a haunting. He had buried Juliette like a corpse beneath the floorboards, content to live with the ghosts that whispered to him in his sleep. Seeing her again was like finding the corpse beneath the floorboards to not only have resurrected, but to be pointing a gun right at his head.

Roma’s broken heart that we can’t quite understand mixed with Juliette’s hardened [also] broken heart was a symphony of misunderstanding we got a front row seat to, that made it impossible to put TVD down. I have NO clue how book two will go, if I will fall as hard as I did for the this story, but if it has even a fraction of the boy tears (I just…it’s a favorite thing, okay?) and heart breaks and betrayals…of the action and mayhem and darkness, I will be an utter fool for it, and lord help anyone who doesn’t want to hear me talk about it, because it will not go over well. In short: you’re going to hear about it anyway-bugs and all. Now I’m off to wash my hair. And that is all.

She…hoped. And hope was dangerous. Hope was the most vicious evil of them all, the thing that had managed to thrive in Pandora’s box among misery, and disease, and sadness-and what could endure alongside others with such teeth if it didn’t have ghastly claws of its own?


This. Book. Was. EPIC. My heart is still pounding and my stomach is in knots. No idea how I’m supposed to wait for the second.

But MAN does my head itch.

Review to come

BOOK TOUR: Playing With Fire by L.J. Shen

BOOK TOUR: Playing With Fire by L.J. ShenPlaying With Fire by L.J. Shen
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

A broken boy on the path to destruction.
A scarred girl without direction.
A love story carved in secrets, inked with pain and sealed with a lie.

Grace Shaw and West St. Claire are arctic opposites.
She is the strange girl from the food truck.
He is the mysterious underground fighter who stormed into her sleepy Texan college town on his motorcycle one day, and has been wreaking havoc since.
She is invisible to the world.
He is the town’s beloved bad boy.
She is a reject.
He is trouble.
When West thrusts himself into Grace’s quiet life, she scrambles to figure out if he is her happily-ever-after or tragic ending.
But the harder she pushes him away, the more he pulls her out of her shell.
Grace doesn’t know much about anything beyond her town’s limits, but she does know this:
She is falling in love with the hottest guy in Sheridan U.
And when you play with fire—you ought to get burned.

“A flawless story of redemption and salvation, Playing With Fire will consume you entirely.” – Amali Rose, USA Today Bestselling Author

Playing With Fire, an all-new heartbreaking and intensely beautiful small town standalone romance from USA Today bestselling author L.J. Shen is available now!

A broken boy on the path to destruction.

A scarred girl without direction.

A love story carved in secrets, inked with pain and sealed with a lie.

Grace Shaw and West St. Claire are arctic opposites.

She is the strange girl from the food truck.

He is the mysterious underground fighter who stormed into her sleepy Texan college town on his motorcycle one day, and has been wreaking havoc since.

She is invisible to the world.

He is the town’s beloved bad boy.

She is a reject.

He is trouble.

When West thrusts himself into Grace’s quiet life, she scrambles to figure out if he is her happily-ever-after or tragic ending.

But the harder she pushes him away, the more he pulls her out of her shell.

Grace doesn’t know much about anything beyond her town’s limits, but she does know this:

She is falling in love with the hottest guy in Sheridan U.

And when you play with fire—you ought to get burned.

Download your copy today or read FREE in Kindle Unlimited!


Amazon Universal:

Amazon Paperback:

Add to PLAYING WITH FIRE to Goodreads –

About L.J. Shen

L.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to twenty different countries. 

She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.

Connect with L.J. Shen





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BOOK REVIEW: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne Young

BOOK REVIEW: Fable (Fable #1) by Adrienne YoungFable (Fable #1)
by Adrienne Young
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads


As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.

But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn't who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they're going to stay alive.

Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men.


Never, under any circumstances, reveal who or what matters to you.

In the land of ever-changing Young Adult Fantasy, the newest (as far as I know) trend is Pirates and the like. Anything to do with the sea, really-and I can’t believe how deeply it resonates with me. This is only the third or fourth story set at sea (exclusively) that I’ve read, but it easily catapulted to the top of the pile with grace.

I don’t need much to make me happy-a tortured-or loyal (or both)-hero, a feisty or fierce or witty heroine, and a fantasy that takes me away. That has a deeply rooted foundation capable of carrying a story even when things are slow, or only day to day fillers. They don’t need to be action packed from beginning to end. And, as a seasoned reader and reviewer, I’ve learned I don’t even like that. Back when I was a little less sure of what worked for me, I always thought that action meant good and the more there was, surely the better the book would be.

This crew had already been in trouble when I stepped onto their ship, but I couldn’t help but wonder if I was going to be the storm that finally sank them.

After countless series crashing and burning (in my humble opinion) because of this exact reason, I learned that action does not equal plot, and action does not equal a story that resonates deeply in your soul-it can’t possibly reside there, because what really was there to grasp onto? What did the characters say or do that stuck with you? The answer is convoluted and a whole lot of nothing. But, with master storytellers such as Young? There’s something special there that can’t be won with flash and flare-it’s won with quiet, fierce storytelling and a few perilous battles here and there. THAT is how a good fantasy is told, and it’s how it becomes a permanent resident in my heart.

I was standing in the breezeway with my heart in my throat, trying to figure out how to say goodbye, and West couldn’t wait to be rid of me.

Character driven stories are really the bread and butter of my all-time favorite books in my most recent, wiser years, and this story-while there was plenty of action for my taste-is no exception. Fable is an AMAZING heroine, one that I rarely see anymore. I don’t get to read like I used to, but I still know a good heroine when I see one. I have always been about the book boys, but I have a soft spot in my heart when a fierce female comes along and steals the show.

Fable is made of tougher skin having been raised under the Narrows trade leader, Saint, and after being left on an unforgivable island where she had to fight for her life every single day, she’s not one to be messed with. One goal in mind, she dredged day after day, morning to night, to make coin when the Marigold came every couple weeks looking for what only she could deliver. She’d trade what she had dredged, and she was finally close enough to get off the life-threatening island she was left on four years prior…until she attracted the attention of every other dredger trying to find the same HEA fate as she, and instead it became about fighting for her life not silently and intently as before, but kicking and screaming, striking a deal with the only trader she could halfway trust-West.

Which…this brings me to the crux of everything, doesn’t it? West was a beyond amazing character, for me. I love when the heroes (and the heroines) are morally gray and you can’t quite pinpoint who they are, what their intentions may be, and how they want the pieces to fall. West was just that. He is a perfect example of the heroes I continually fall hard for, because he keeps his emotions close to his chest-He doesn’t betray what he’s really thinking. But, his actions continually speak louder than his words (or lack thereof) and he is always waiting in the wings, rushing to help Fable even when he can’t trust her.

And though West had said again and again that he didn’t do favors and that he didn’t take chances, he’d done both. Over and over.
For me.

This was the slowest of slow burn romances and it was EVERYTHING I hoped it would be. I don’t need book long, flashy romances. I need that build, that something to look forward to-the hoping, the praying, the what-if of how it will-or won’t-happen. And, ultimately, I love waiting for that horrible end we just know is coming. I’m sorry, but it gets my perilistic, masochistic heart pumping and my blood buzzing. It simmers under my skin just WAITING to see what obstacles the hero and heroine will face and…I’m done sounding [exactly like who I am] psycho.

Fable honestly took me by surprise. I knew I wanted to read it; I was excited about it. But, it wasn’t until I started the book that I felt my soul leave my body and my heart begin pounding, butterflies erupt in my stomach, and a giddiness erupt that is unparalleled since having my little boy. It was an escape, a world to look forward to after a long day with two small children, a sickness that just now seems to be finally going away, and a reprieve from my ‘I must always be on’ duties. I haven’t felt like that in over a year. For that, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Fable.

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