Author: Chelsea (Page 2 of 111)

BOOK REVIEW: Just Like Magic by Sarah Hogle

BOOK REVIEW: Just Like Magic by Sarah HogleJust Like Magic by Sarah Hogle
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

From the author of Twice Shy comes a sprightly Christmas novel, a rollicking romp through the absurdity of family holidays and the hope of new love.

Bettie Hughes once knew the comfort of luxury, flaunting a ridiculous collection of designer shoes and a stealthy addiction to CBD oils. That is, until her parents snipped her purse strings. Long obsessed with her public image, Bettie boasts an extravagant lifestyle on social media. But the reality is: Bettie is broke and squatting in Colorado, and her family has no idea.

Christmas, with its pressure to meet familial expectations, is looming when a drunk Bettie plays a vinyl record of “All I Want for Christmas Is You” backwards and accidentally conjures Hall, an unexpectedly charming Holiday Spirit in the form of a man. Once the shock wears off, Bettie knows she’s stumbled upon the greatest gift: a chance to make all her holiday wishes come true, plus a ready-made fiancé.

But as the wiles of magic lose their charm, Bettie finds herself set off-kilter by Hall’s sweet gestures. Suddenly, Bettie is finding her heart merry and light. But the happier she gets, the shorter Hall’s time on earth grows. Can Bettie channel the Christmas spirit and learn to live with goodwill toward all men? Or will her selfish ways come back as soon as the holidays are over?

*ARC provided by Penguin Group Putnam in exchange for an honest review*

It’s taken my whole life to realize that not being the center of attention isn’t the same thing as being ignored.
Is this growth? I don’t care for it.

I will admit this book made me feel many things…and anger was one of them, to start. It’s rare I pick up a book by a beloved author and feel anything other than-at minimum-happy. I’ll also admit, before going farther down the rabbit hole, that I did NOT know this was a Christmas book when I requested it. It’s simple, really-I saw Sarah Hogle and I clicked ‘Request’. I do not question a single thing when I see that name, and I never will-even after this tremulous start. BUT I DIGRESS. I picked this story up and it was nothing short of…well…just as she described it: Chaos [goblin].

It feels wrong to find him attractive, so I’m trying not to. It’s like eyeing a Keebler elf with seductive intentions. He’s so nice and so pure, a glowing unicorn untainted by all that is crass and vulgar about the world.

And I realize some people didn’t just fall head over heels immediately for Twice Shy (I loved it from page one, but we are all different, I suppose! And I GET IT.), but this was a whole different beast, in my opinion. I think we were thrown in rather quickly, deep into our MC’s story without much to ground us. Then, all of a sudden, this bitter girl [with so many pop culture references to start out that my head was spinning and I couldn’t keep up?] has this super happy, almost Elf-like guy landing in her living room and to say I was utterly confused would be an absolute understatement.

His face is scarlet. “The Grinch is to me what polka dots are to you.”
“I’ve never met anyone who hates the Grinch.”
“I don’t! I can’t possibly hate anything. But he’s terrible, Bettie. All the Whos wanted was to eat their roast beast and sing. They just wanted to celebrate. That’s all they wanted! I don’t understand why the cable network Freeform includes this insult to the holiday spirit in their Twenty-Five Days of Christmas lineup.”

Now-listen-I am fair and I don’t judge immediately…but wow. I say this with my WHOLE heart-I have never been so shocked and flabbergasted by a book in my whole entire existence. What. Even. WAS. This??? To say it took me a VERY long time to even want to turn the pages is a nice way of saying this was a struggle, to a certain point. And okay, I really am not selling this well, but I’m not trying to. This book, at first, will turn many people away. I just know it. But then…then. Even though I am of the more broody type of male, as of late….Hall just…he became this person that wholly changed the trajectory of this story.

I’m practically a demon in comparison, which you’d think would prompt me to take it easy on him. But instead, it’s really bringing out the demon. I find myself wanting to say inappropriate things just to see what his expression will do. All of my worst impulses are running amok.
Maybe I can see how my spirit might be a one point five.

No longer was his silliness the forefront, but something that enhanced every single moment, every single scene, every single event that would have normally caused Bettie strife or heartache. He was an anchor, an outside view, someone who aided everyone to see that they were all viewing things in an entirely incorrect or slewed perspective and just…all of a sudden this jumbled, unbelievable, crazy mess of utter destruction and mayhem became something deeper, sounder, something that lived with a slowly beating heart, suddenly gaining a pulse whereas, before, it was filler and silly and lacking the depth of a puddle.

“Is this tap water?”
He blinks. “Uhh. I don’t know.”
“I only . . .” I slump onto my side upon the unforgiving floor, eyes clenched tight, dying of thirst. “. . . drink . . . Evian.”
He tips the cup against my lips, confirming my worst fears about the source of this water. It’s inhumane, the atrocities I have endured today.

And isn’t that just the kicker? I was all of sudden transported to thoughts such as ‘well, okay, that stuff wasn’t that silly’ or ‘man those moments of such exaggerated spoof have kind of enhanced the story now that we look back, haven’t they?’, to ‘okay but all those moments the magic annoyed me and I didn’t think it could possibly be redeemed after such silliness now seem so much cuter *imagining Hall frantically trying fulfill Bettie’s wishes running around behind her while she stands there frothing and smiling maniacally* it hits different and I now smile fondly’ (seriously, I, at one point, was genuinely like WTF?!) and, ultimately, ‘Hall is literally the kindest person and he helps Bettie to see herself for who she could be, and isn’t he just becoming so much sweeter and down to earth? More human?’

Are you going to intervene?” I ask Hall.
“Can’t. Duels are protected from magical interference. It’s all in the legislation.”
“I would like to see this legislation.”
“There is legislation that prevents you from seeing the legislation. Your eyes are too mortal.”
Naturally.

I can’t explain how all of a sudden a literal OVERLY SWEET, CANDY BOX type of guy became someone I bawled over, but here we are. And here I am. And that just goes to show how great of a writer my Sarah is, because even though I thought she made Bettie just…too much…she made me-ultimately-care for her. She made me see myself in her. She made me FEEL things with how I am bitter and angry and how I, too, would love to shove it to those who wrong me daily, yet I won’t, I don’t, and I deserve more. I deserve to think better of myself, to hold myself in a higher regard and to just…let that evil go. Let those PEOPLE go. And I just love this author, absolutely ADORE this crazy woman, for always creating the Naomi’s and Betties that are-yes, sometimes hard-edged and perhaps sometimes cruel-so relatable and [even though Bettie was WAY over the top] palatable and….people who I saw my mirror image self in.

But I’ll never be sufficiently holiday-cheered, which means that he’s wrong, and isn’t going anywhere. I have the vicious, cold, impenetrable heart of a withered old hag. It’s half of my appeal.

And ouchhhhh maybe that’s just why I love this author so much. She sees me. She hears me. She tells me I am okay as I am and that there is always room to let love in, let it grow, and let it become something more than bitterness and perhaps we could stand to let more light and love in.

Felix is feeling bad about himself because he didn’t give Marilou her dream wedding, so he’s poking holes in my love life, and I don’t want to hear it. I’ve rapidly grown protective of my sham relationship and our future sham marriage.

And ugh look at me being all sappy-I used to be nice, too, ya know. Just like young Bettie. Don’t you just looooove in-laws who corrupt your view of the world (the way that You Deserve Each Other sings to my soul, I tell you…)? Either way-YES. This book was crazy and I do hope the beginning is fine tuned a bit, but that’s okay because, frankly, in the end I felt. And not everyone will. That’s okay, too. I didn’t think this was going to work. I truly didn’t. But once Hall went to bat for Bettie, let the ‘good guy will take all your shit’ act step aside to defend the girl he was falling in love with….my heart melted. It became goo. And I liked seeing him find a real persona that didn’t emulate all things nutcracker and holiday spirit (since that is who he personifies) and seeing that he could be serious –and he was seriously in love with Bettie. I needed this levity. Without it I fear this book would have fallen in the cracks for me, yet it fought it’s way out and now I can look forward to a fun book to read in December-everyone needs a good dose of a great man like Hall.

I have plenty of good attributes, of course—I’m always down for a fun time, I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue, and I have a knack for finding hidden gems when traveling. But I’ll admit I’m probably a tad more self-involved than is decent and am fond of revenge schemes.

It shouldn’t have worked, for me, by rights-him being the literal holiday spirit (so weird lol), but, in the end, watching him guide Bettie through her journey for self-worth, finding what makes her glow…it was just absolutely beautiful to see both of their transformations. And when it finally got serious, when we got to see their clock winding down, true emotions having to be shown lest they are never said before he inevitably has to say goodbye, that’s when we truly begin to feel and see what this whole story was meant to be.

My genetic pool doesn’t rise early to admire the dawn. If we rise early, it’s because there’s a limited number of Krispy Kreme donuts.

And there is a moment where Bettie is ice-skating-alone-and I just…it fractured my heart as she discovered herself, as she let her sadness shine, let the idea that she needed someone else to make her complete go… I bawled, okay . Hogle can set. A damn. Scene. And that whole moment, the atmosphere, what happens, how it plays out, how she ~feels~ things…my heart. I don’t think I’ll get my heart back from that absolutely breathtaking moment.

Simultaneously, my conscience, which isn’t as much like Jiminy Cricket as it is like Scar from The Lion King, sits forward and raises an intrigued eyebrow.

So. Yes. I was not sold at first, and it will not be for everyone…and many will love it. That’s just how it goes. But I can firmly say, now that I have officially written a review and chosen a side (my true feelings always come out candidly when I write my reviews, because my immediate feelings have faded and I’ve had time to process) that I am proud to say I love this dumpster fire of a book, just as I did Twice Shy and You Deserve Each Other, and I am so happy I found my beautiful, chaotic, dumpster fire of an author (am I allowed to say this? I feel like she’d actually appreciate this) and I hope she never stops churning out my Naomis and Betties and chaos goblins alike. I will always try them, and I will always hold them tight. There aren’t enough neurotic, WELL DONE female MCs like Hogle creates-I just have to hope she never stops writing them, or I’d truly lose a piece of my crazy, surly, petty self.

FRAN SCALE:
Jen-As you are my light and joy and HOLIDAY SPIRIT PERSONIFIED FRIEND, yes
Arielle– I teeter back and forth, but I think you’d get a kick out of it
Cassie– You are an evil, corrupt soul like me, so yes. Maybe not a favorite, but you’ll enjoy the petty just as I did
Anna– Actually, maybe. But who knows.

****

I mean…IDK????? I have ZERO clue what to rate this. It was a two…for like…40%. Isn’t that just crazy? Then a tentative three. Then a four. Then my ass was bawling for twenty minutes (I do not think I feel well. I had a twig in my eye) straight and inconsolable with feels and wtf even.

Something about Hogle-even when she starts with such a HUGE misstep and novel of absolute chaos that makes zero sense and pisses me off with her buddy the elf love interest-just speaks to my heart.

Maybe it’s that I, too, have lost my happiness and youth and the rose tinted glasses way I used to view the world because of circumstances that surround me and have changed me irrevocably. That I saw my bitterness in Bettie and saw how Hall brought all that wonder and willingness to try and be good and the way he fell for her was just so sweet and sincere.

Maybe it’s the way he defended her, went to bat when no one else would, with his whole heart because he knows who she is on the inside the way I crave to be supported and cherished. He literally CHERISHED her with hearts in his literal eyes and I aspire to make my husband find those love eyes again ha.

I don’t know. But I was a mess and, though this was a surefire dumpster of a book I don’t actually know will do well, I fell for it because I am weak and a sucker and even though I am of the toxic male variety as of late I found the LAST half with Hall so heartfelt and endearing with his adoration of Bettie that I cannot rate this low any longer.

Call me weak. Call me a sucker. But Hogle speaks to my bitter little heart and shoves my style of humor into every crevice (despite how cheesy the jokes COULD be and WERE for a very long time) and how she [maybe perhaps WAY too many this time] uses pop culture references in every story that crack me up but normally has the perfect amount for me.

So. Whatever. I guess a 5 for now??? LOL SHOCKER? I am weak.

REVIEW TO COME.

***********

OMGGGGG The way that getting this ARC made my DAYYYYYYY!!!

This. Author. Is. EVERYTHING.

Nicholas doesn’t like bangs? Perfect. I don’t like Nicholas.

Lolll I cannot WAIT.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW: All of Our Demise (All of Us Villains #2) by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

BOOK REVIEW: All of Our Demise (All of Us Villains #2) by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn HermanAll of Our Demise (All of Us Villains #2)
by christine lynn herman, Amanda Foody
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The epic conclusion to Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman’s New York Times bestselling All of Us Villains duology that's The Hunger Games with magic.

“I feel like I should warn you: this is going to be absolutely brutal.”

For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good... no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.

As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.

Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.

*ARC PROVIDED BY TORTEEN*

“Killing is easy,” Alistair murmured. “It’s the afterward that’s harder.”
“But it’s the afterward we’re fighting for.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I needed this ARC more than my next breath. I thought about it from the moment I closed book one last year in July and it was in my thoughts no less than every single week (this is a long time to worry and obsess over someone’s fate you’ve come to care so deeply for). And, when I finally finally felt like it was close enough to the release date that I could request it, I waited on bated breath for a reply….and was both ecstatic and surprised and self-assured in equal measure when I was sent a copy for review. All this being said though…I still don’t know what to rate this story.

As it was, he felt as though he lived with some sort of comical in-between, with an Alistair who’d put his shiny new pitchfork in a place of honor by the fireplace, who mumbled about souls and goblins and whatever other nonsense when he thought no one was listening.
The broom cupboard, alas, had extremely thin walls.

Was it bad? No. Not at all. Did I hate it? Not in the slightest. Did I love it, though? No…the sad sad answer is that I did not. I did NOT love the finale to a book I wanted as much as one can want a physical thing. I have agonized over this review since I finished over a week ago, and it’s not because I don’t have the words to say what needs to be said, it’s that I don’t want to say what I feel needs to be said. And what needs to be said, exactly?

Well…if you know me AT. ALL. I am not one to sugarcoat how I feel about ship dumping. And I am not one to really, I don’t know, cherish being led a certain direction only to be thrown out in the cold. I don’t think this is wholly the authors’ faults nor intentions…but that doesn’t mean I do not feel the same cold and detached anger that I felt at a few of my biggest disappointments for series I would have died for, back in the day.

The writing, as always, is superb. I legitimately can’t believe how much I just LOVE immersing in this world, in this amazing writing. And I’ve struggled to pinpoint why I loved book one so much, but it’s become increasingly clear: when reading All of Us Villains it felt not only like I was immersed in a lush portrayal of a harsh, inevitable battle of ruthlessness and cunning, but as if I was watching a movie play out scene by scene, unable to disenchant myself by simply ceasing to read. This movie rolled on far past the credits, and while the story may not be for everyone, it should strike impressive to all that such a macabre story could be so damn enthralling, written in such an addicting way it’s as if I went into a movie theater and I’m left walking out, reeling-Unable to think of anything else for the longest amounts of time, with blowback and feels hitting me seemingly out nowhere when I least expect it. It’s beautiful. It’s raw. It’s absolutely spell-binding-I love Villains so much it hurts. And perhaps this truth strikes deeper simply for that exact fact of surprise of how much I loved enduring that pain and heartache.

And while I felt all of this when reading Demise, it was stunted. Not only by the fact that I was pondering and puzzling why the authors were choosing to take the path they did, but because book one-while not all out action, necessarily-had so much heart and fight and desperation in each and every scene, no matter how subtle. This one was more about research, alliances, what can we do to end this tournament vs fighting those who did not want the tournament’s end. And while I actually truly LOVE the premise of this masterfully laid groundwork, I felt like there was a sacrifice made…and that sacrifice was the STRONGEST pull of book one, in my opinion.

“In a different story, would we still have been enemies?”
“Does it matter?”

It’s not that (view spoiler) wasn’t the most important thing in the world to me, it was the wasted potential of the absolute epic WIN sat right at our feet at the end of book two, and the waste of the build-up (just in my opinion, of course) of that amazing betrayal all throughout book one. I just think….there was SUCH an awesome play on TRUE (view spoiler) here and it was just kind of thrown to the side for the same exact play, but with a different song and dance and grasping onto the little clues from ONE SIDE thrown our way from book one. THAT BEING SAID-I was one hundred percent okay with how it all turned out, because if you truly love a character, you love and support their story. And I do. I did. End of. I just wish it had come about differently.

The Grieves had raised Gavin to die. The Lowes had raised Alistair to kill.
Both of them deserved a better story.

ALL THAT ASIDE….I do believe there was something missing here that was present in book one. I can’t quite say what it is other than I think I just-personally didn’t enjoy the plot as much. Because, in the end, I DID like the feeling, the swirling fall leaves on crisp, cold air. I felt every moment like I was apart of it. And that’s perhaps what I loved most about this duology-these authors know. How. To. Build. An. ATMOSPHERE. I just love their descriptions, always. SO freakin’ beautiful.

“I think maybe people need stories to survive, but they can also use them to hurt each other. Or themselves,” Gavin said. “If you’ve found a way for your family’s stories to feed you without feeding on you . . . that seems worth holding on to.”

Which, finally, I guess leads me to why I really didn’t just fall head over heels-I guess that, in the previous installment, I cared for almost every single character barring one. Well…I won’t go into that ‘one’ character, but aside from him/her, I didn’t mind anyone. In this story I just…only cared about Alistair, if I’m being honest. And, inevitably, *insert eyeroll here* the one character I didn’t HATE but didn’t LIKE from book one. So that left many. Many. MANY characters that I was morose about and bored to tears with their narratives. And-okay-let’s be frank. They angered me. It just was not the direction I wanted and I know I can’t control that, but it made me upset all the same. The twisted mind games (not what you think, I LOVE twisted mind games, believe me) that really just didn’t add much to the story and the way that-all of a FREAKING sudden-someone suddenly had so much animosity towards another certain someone seemingly out of nowhere. What even and when did that even happen? I don’t buy it, and-again-that sets my anger-dar off.

After everything he’d gone through, one thing remained unchanged: He’d always want what he’d never have.

I digress. My point in all this is-I feel that I should have grown to like these people MORE, not less, and it really threw me for a loop that I all of a sudden only wanted two POVS out of however many (and okay, yes, I did like two main POVs in the last book, but I didn’t HATE having to switch to the others, at all). Plus, I’m going to say it-this book was, in no way, brutal. *shrug* I guess I just really pictured all out THG style stuff, but I definitely felt it wasn’t as crazy as I’d have liked. Yes, I’m bloodthirsty. Yes I’m unhinged. And NO I am not sorry.

It was a story that could only end in death. Trying not to make that death his own shouldn’t feel shameful. Just necessary.

All that being said, I can see this shooting up in popularity for MANY people because of ~reasons~, but I can also see people being a lot like me, plot wise. I DO understand it and I also DO realize I’d be probably at a four star minimum if I hadn’t felt flummoxed at the turn of events, because I think this was a realistic way to end this duology, as far as a full book plot wise, but that doesn’t change that I wish it could have been different, more bloodthirsty, more lusty, and, frankly, more, even if that is simply only my personal taste, and I realize that. But-again-no one understands how much all this breaks my heart, so there is that.

*****

okay but why do I feel like I’m going to throw up :/

Never have I been more nervous to read a conclusion to a favorite series [or at least not in this gruesome way and not in a long time].

I would LITERALLY sell my soul to have this book in my hands right now.

BOOK REVIEW: Glow (The Plated Prisoner #4) by Raven Kennedy

BOOK REVIEW: Glow (The Plated Prisoner #4) by Raven KennedyGlow (The Plated Prisoner #4)
by Raven Kennedy
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

"I was nothing but a road to Midas. A means to get to where he wanted to go, and I paved that path in gold."

My life has been made up of gilded lies. But death has been shaped from rot.

Like a phoenix caught fire, I will need to rise from the ashes and learn to wield my own power. Because my wings may have been clipped, but I am not in a cage, and I'm finally free to fly from the frozen kingdoms I've been kept in.

Yet the world doesn't want to let me.

That's the thing when you turn against a king—everyone else turns against you.

Good thing I have a different king in my corner.

But even with the dark threat of Slade Ravinger, the other monarchs are coming for me.

So I will fight for him and he will kill for me, and if we need to become the villains, then so be it.

Because so long as I live in this world, I won't be used again.

Please note: This is an adult fantasy series with dark elements that may be triggering, including past emotional and physical trauma, violence, adult language, and explicit romance. Read at your own discretion.

 

“I know what you went through was horrible, but for what it’s worth, I am glad that you’re here in this world with me,” I say quietly.
His eyes soften. “Oh, Goldfinch. I would’ve found you in whatever world you were in. In whatever life.”

The wait for this book has been one of the most unbearable to date, so imagine my disappointment when I realize the release date isn’t a Tuesday-like most standard releases-but a Saturday, when I am literally the MOST tired, the BUSIEST, and the LEAST likely to get much more than a few percent in reading wise. It seems backwards, doesn’t it? Well, let’s see. It’s summer, for one-Pools, lakes, outside play of the highest form. Secondly, my husband stays up later-Look, I love you, Man, but I have BOOKS to read: Go. The FUCK. To sleep.

 

That’s the thing with trauma to the body—it shows up instantly. In breaks and bruises, in burns and in blood. But the trauma on the inside, that’s harder to see. It creeps around your mind, poisons you with disquiet. It can hit you out of nowhere, debilitating and ruinous. There are no marks visible for those. None, save the shadows in your eyes.

SO, as you can see, I was in a bit of turmoil over this. I’ll admit it stunted my enjoyment, which truly breaks my heart in a way I can never fully express, and I’m too stubborn to just wait until a Monday or Tuesday night as I see all the reviews rolling in from people who literally read it at 12 am when it released and just did. Not. Stop. I applaud you, really I do. But…you fueled my competitive juices, not to mention my insatiable need to devour my favorite series like the drug addict I am and to avoid spoilers at ALL costs. So-I started at midnight along with my fellow ravenous readers, but failed to succeed in the same way (ie tired eyes, irritable mood because I couldn’t fully immerse). Also…how can I function with a two and a half and 5 year old after staying up so late reading every weeknight, you ask? Well…I make it work. My husband and I are made of different stuff, and if I had to give up my miniscule few hours every night to myself and give up reading, I’d lose a piece of myself, my soul, my sanity-and that’s not something I’m willing to do. So, with the DARKEST and PUFFIEST circles under my eyes, I write this review after staying up late reading another book last night, and I go about my day a bit withered, but no worse for wear. It’s called priorities people, look it up.

I let out a shaky laugh, relaxing when they all start to drink and talk and eat, relaxing even more when I join in.
And for a while, that’s all there is. That’s all that matters. I clutch my words and stay balanced on the blade, and for now, it works. For now, I don’t have to reflect or process or talk. I don’t have to face anything real.
For now.

But this is where I have to interject and say that this is the mark of an amazing writer or, rather, to get to a more direct point-it’s the mark of an amazing series that has stolen my heart so completely that even stretching the book out over many many many days over just waiting and binging over the weeknights didn’t change the fact that I loved it and know it’s worth. Am I as fangirly as I would have been had this released at a better or more planned out time for me? No. But the love is deep, it swims in my soul with a warm glowing feel of gold, and I know that I am still just as in love had I binged it-and I know that my re-read will bring all those neurotic feels I so desperately crave and covet and accept with each reading of my all-time favorite series’.

“You said past, present, and future, right?”
He sucks in a breath, but I look him in the eye without faltering. Because the only way to walk a new path is to stop yourself from using the same stumbling stride.
Even if his present is as shocking as a living corpse.
Even if his past might break my heart.
Even if his future isn’t guaranteed.

This book had a lot of soul in it, a lot growth-building of heart and mind and inner strength. Pushing yourself to the brink to release the evil that was pushed on you, that made you grow into a cowering shadow of yourself-to find who you are, what you are capable of, and who you are meant to be. And, while seeing this inner strength erupt from Auren and seeing her do it for herself-just this once, to embrace someone she didn’t think she’d ever find again-was nothing short of astounding and well-worth the wait (absolutely gratifying)….but, I’m sorry, she’d have never found this inner strength without a certaaiiiinnnn someone helping her, encouraging her, and giving her support and strength along the way-giving her that confidence she truly needed-Rip.

He wants to yank out the stopper holding in my anguish while I’m still desperately trying to keep my fingers pressed to the cork.

Have I….have I mentioned Rip before? How much I adore him? Cherish him? Want to wind him around my finger and summon him with a come hither every minute of every hour of every day? How his confidence [cocky without being an ass], his power [I mean…IYKYK], his possessiveness [without being a control freak], his charm [again, IYKYK], his absolute willingness to stand behind the woman he loves without batting an eye, his willingness to be the villain in her story, be the villain for her, not to her….did I mention that? That I abso-fucking-lutely love him and I’m tRaSh for him?? Hmm. Doesn’t ring a bell.

I won’t allow another storm to touch Auren. She has been flooded and wrung out, left to take the barrage without shelter. But so long as I’m here, I will be her shelter.

But let’s talk about that last Rip fact, shall we? We don’t talk about this enough collectively, in my opinion. People shout their praises that they love villains, the villain arc, the idea that sometimes bad guys can get the girl…and let’s be clear-Rip is NOT the villain, no matter what he says (lol), but he does some very twisted, very morally gray things that keep him from being classified a golden boy hero. My favorite thing, really-morally gray while ACTUALLY being morally grayand without a hint of remorse, either. Be still, my beating heart. But, yes, Rip’s morally gray moments stem wholly from doing whatever it takes-and I’m talking whatever it takes-for those he loves. For those he swore to protect. For those he cherishes. For those that are too weak to do so themselves….and for Auren? The love of his life? He’d do whatever it takes…no matter the cost.

I shake my head. “No, you wouldn’t. You’re good. You’re—”
“No, Goldfinch,” he interrupts. “I’m good to you. But I am every bit the villain that I warned you I was.”
His previous words ring in my ears.
I’ll be the villain for you. Not to you.

But is the cost too great, this time? Things really begin to crumble in this story, collapsing around Rip in a torrent so strong he almost begins to lose his cool. Events collide, people turn, and he loses some very important support-or rather, it hangs on a very precarious balance-that makes him question everything. But, another thing I just love about this series, is Rip’s Wrath. They support him always, they’re the friend group I never knew I needed, and I love that they add some much needed levity in an otherwise somewhat darker story than we’re used to-and that’s saying something when a lot of it has centered around sex work and children being kidnapped to do so. Maybe this is just my take and this one effected me differently, but the triggers are not gone nor did they disappear-they just continue in different forms, so be warned.

I also wanted throw in, as a kind of afterthought I guess, that I loved seeing a lot of Rip’s past in the form of flashbacks. As if I needed anything else to make me love him more.

I grit my teeth. Fist my sore hand. Feel a line of blood drip from my eyebrow. I stare at The Breaker, and I hate. One day, I think to myself. One day, I will break you instead. But until then, I will learn control.

All that being said, I really think what I’m trying to encapsulate [in a super circumvent way] is that these books grow, they build, and they continue to only get better. I’m sorry, but this SHOCKS me. I picked these books up by MISTAKE, and now they are kind of a big part of my recent ‘These books are my whole life, my whole world, my very existence and next breath’ movement (I can be a bit dramatic, we know this) and I just…I’m so grateful.

I’ve always been treated like treasure, but with ****, I’m simply treasured.

I’ve stated before that these books have hit some nerves from my past, some personal triggers that will likely always be inescapable-but I’m stronger for them. I’ve also identified that some of these books hit home in a way I don’t care to evaluate too much, but see and recognize all the same. I’m known to over-highlight and obsesses over passages like they’re my savior, my personal bible. But these hit different, especially the first three books as I wasn’t as focused on those moments in this one (IYKYK), and I found myself highlighting passages just for ME in yellow (my review quote color), because they just….hit home. And Raven Kennedy…I see you for that. I didn’t like looking at myself in the mirror like that, but it was something I respected myself for identifying with, and I love that it showed my own personal growth, no matter how grotesque to analyze and observe.

I let myself cry until all my tears dry up. It’s not ragged or turbulent anymore. Instead, it’s quiet. Slow. The kind of tears your expression lets fall without fanfare. There is no choked breathing or scrunched up nose. No pulled lips or furrowed brow. This is the suffering of the silent. A hurt so deep it doesn’t show itself on a face.

SO, all in all, I think what I’m getting at is this-these books are special to me, they hold a very deep place in my heart and in my soul, and they only continue to get better-maybe not for everyone. Maybe not in content…but in strength and heart. And I think that’s something amazing, something to behold. And I cannot wait (or maybe I can. I hate final books almost always…they almost never end a series in a way I like or find believable, but I have tentative hope for Kennedy) to see how two of the newest editions to my rabid ride-or-die-or-perish-in-a-sea-of-feels OTPs fare. I hope they all find their happily ever after….or, ya know, I’ll perish in a sea of not-so-great feels.

“You slept in here with me?”
To say I’m taken aback is putting it mildly. The idea that he would stay with me makes me feel oddly vulnerable.
He cocks his head. “Where else would I be if not with you?”

BOOK REVIEW: The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth May

BOOK REVIEW: The Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3) by Elizabeth MayThe Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer #3)
by Elizabeth May
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.


Kiaran goes still. “Save me, Kam?” His low, bitter laugh is cold enough to freeze my heart. His next words are whispered against the pulse at my throat. “(view spoiler), you’d wish you had killed me.”

So many times a person will pick up a book-or book series-and immediately put it down when it doesn’t suit them. I can’t say I do this often, but when I do, I generally don’t go back and give it a second chance. But, for some reason, I might have saw this on my feed or maybe I saw it on my iPad-I can’t remember-and I immediately wondered…did I really give this a fair shake?

“Bad habit,” I murmur.
“The worst,” she agrees.
My laugh is low, forced. “You know those stories where the lone hero saves the world?” I ask. “Do you ever notice that they don’t talk about what happens if the hero fails?”
Catherine looks impatient. “That’s where it began, wasn’t it? Thinking it was your duty to protect us all.” She shakes her head. “We’re not your responsibility, Aileana. This world isn’t your burden. It belongs to all of us.”


The Falconer seems to be a very polarizing series. In some ways, it is revered and a large group of people LOVE it. On the other end of the spectrum, people hate it with a fiery burning passion. As I said-that makes it difficult for a mood reader like me to decide if I should crack on or move on. But, again, for some reason, when I saw this, I just knew I had to try again. It pulled me in, made me wonder, made me remember how little I read fantasy back when I first tried it. That, and I read it with a dud of a friend who shall remain nameless-that tends to taint things when there’s a ridiculous black cloud hanging over everything, doesn’t it? Either way-I decided to try it…

“Threats? Too easy. If he doesn’t listen, I’ll challenge him to a duel and beat him a few times with a blunt instrument. He likes that sort of thing.” In fact, I seem to recall it being Kiaran’s idea of flirting.

And wow did it start out JUST as bad as I remembered. I hated it. Well-no-I just saw why I had put it down. The focus was fuzzy and I had nothing that really drew me in. Well-I decided to push for a few more chapters-why not? It was free, I’d already bought it years ago, and I had nothing else pressing. And I am SO. GLAD. I. DID. Because not one chapter after I was about to put that heaping pile poo down (and about when I put it down last time, though I made it a bit longer this time, obviously) my whole world was tilted on its axis and I lost my breath in a crescendo of ravaging stomach butterflies. Why, you ask? Come now…you all know me better than that.

Why love a butterfly when it starts to die the moment it gets its wings?

It always starts with a boy, doesn’t it? The minute I met the dark and mysterious Kiaran…I knew I was a goner. I knew I’d be finishing book one, and I knew I’d like it quite a bit. From the moment he appeared, the minute they began training, it’s as if the story opened up and the sun shone brighter. I actually was really loving it. The end was epic, mildly so, but on the epic end I’d say, for most, if not a little convoluted, and it began a newer, darker path for our MC and the guy she had grown to love.

“Are you trying to forget me, MacKay?”
Kiaran looks up at me, his beautiful lilac eyes oddly vulnerable. “Say that name again.” His voice is rough with emotion. He does feel. And if he still feels, then he’s Kiaran. And he’s worth saving. I smile.
“MacKay.”
His fingers slide down my ribs. Lower. “Again.”
“Kiaran MacKay.”


Now. That’s that. I was very up and down with this series-I’ll straight up admit it-but I didn’t want to quit on it. I just….felt something, ya know? Sometimes you get a feeling that if you just hold on a little while longer, it will pay off in the end. Well, it did. And, frankly, this might be one of the best finales of a trilogy I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Gone were the useless, tedious side characters that made me grit my teeth. Gone was the ridiculous humor and not-so-witty banter that really took away from the story. Here, we got to see a fully fleshed out story where we have our main 4 or 5 characters, a dark curse entwining not one-not two-but many characters that led to death no matter the path they took. Now…THAT is a story. That’s a story I’d sacrifice my soul for.

“Easy.”
Right. Just battle four dozen soldiers to get the attention of my lover, who may or may not be evil depending on what mood he’s in.
“You know,” I say lightly, “I think we need to rethink your use of easy. Just a suggestion.”
“I have taken your suggestion under consideration and decided to ignore it.” She steps back with a smile. “Ready?”
I recall another portal Aithinne opened for me to cross between islands. “You’re not going to have me nearly crushed by tree branches again, are you?”
“No, no. Crushed by water.”


I know some people still found issues, but this is the one time I’m going to call them out. It’s cool that you wanted a darker character (they know who I’m talking about), and of course that would be freaking awesome, but the balance this author struck between longing, tortured, and dark was impeccable and I honestly don’t think it would have added a single thing. It wasn’t ‘rip your head off’ dark, yet you still always felt like you were teetering on the precipice of something that our characters couldn’t come back from. That they just might not win-or-someone would lose among their group. And, not to mention, she also added a weird tilt of balance where an evil character kind of made bad things happen when they wouldn’t have, and I think that’s the angle the author went for, as opposed to our characters losing large, irredeemable parts of themselves that would be hard to clean up in the finale.

“What’s your plan?” Aithinne asks.
“Go back, find the girl, and kill the Morrigan.”
“Simple. Effective. Small chance of success.” She smiles. “I like it.”


I just…I was in astonishment at the pure perfection that encompassed these pages and I could lose myself in them every single night. It’s a story I felt was written just for me-the tortured love, the sense of hopelessness, the way that we got glimpses of how much they cared for one another and how it could not/would not/will never be, all while battling an evil entity that is everywhere they turn, playing with their minds endlessly and???? I mean…how is this NOT peak entertainment? How are people not falling head over heels for this? I’m sorry, I know people have high standards but come ON…it is SO worth it to just let it all go and just feel and enjoy! But…hey…that’s just me.


Maybe the price of saving the world is forgetting how to live in it.

And I won’t praddle on too much longer, but I must say that I appreciated that author kept the silly humor far out of this one. We got snarky comments that could be cheesy, sure, but they finally balanced in and it added levity when things were bleak or the characters were losing their way. And, I’m sorry the nonexistence of a certain character in this one literally made this book work. If I had to hear that dumb **GRRRR** make any more silly, frivolous, or childish comments on the side, I’d have ripped my hair out. In fact, this person was the reason I about quit the series in book two. It’s just. Too. Much. And it is NOT good. So…the lack of presence there, I was here for it. And I also loved the way a certain evil character was incorporated in, how it added tension to Kiaran and Kam’s relationship, and how we finally were able to learn more about her-and I didn’t even know I wanted that. Go figure.

What does that make me, when a faery is capable of more humanity than I am?


SO. Do I recommend this series? Yes and no. Can you overlook the silly to get to the epic? Normally I can’t. But I did, and It was 100% worth it and I will be getting the hardbacks as soon as possible. This book series is for you if you can put aside the annoying side parts, if you can push through, if you can embrace that slow darkness that creeps in. But, if you want you perfection from every angle, no plot holes ever…then I don’t know. Obviously it’s not for you because this series is far from perfect. But I do feel bad for you- because book one, while not without issues, is a delight. Book two has a huge payoff, a dark, bleak look into what’s to come. And book three is dark, tortured, romantic, and a anguished lovers peril scenario lover’s greatest delight. Is it for everyone? Nah. But as the stakes finally became high enough-my biggest quabble from before-my tears were flowing and I was blubbering, fangirly mess in the end…and I couldn’t be happier I rediscovered this series and found a forever favorite. I hope you can find it in these pages, too.

(view spoiler)




****

Where in the world was this author hiding that level of writing??? Holyyyyy shit, that was epic and everything I needed to make this series one I will never forget. Y’all are sleeping on this one.

Review to DEFINITELY come.

BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2) by Elizabeth May

BOOK REVIEW: The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2) by Elizabeth MayThe Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2)
by Elizabeth May
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

My name is Lady Aileana Kameron.

First the fae murdered my mother. Then they destroyed my world.

Now I’m fighting for more than revenge.

Aileana took a stand against the Wild Hunt, and she lost everything: her home, her family and her friends. Held captive by her enemy, and tormenting herself over her failure, escape seems like only the faintest possibility. But when she gets her chance, she seizes it . . . to rejoin a world devastated by war.

The future is bleak. Hunted by the fae, running for her life, Aileana has only a few options left. Trying to become part of a society scarred by – and hiding from – the Wild Hunt; trusting that a fragile alliance with the fae will save her; or walking the most dangerous path at all: coming in to her own powers as the last of the Falconers . . .



“Then what changed your mind?” I ask him seriously. “About wanting me to kill him.”
Derrick is quiet for the longest time, wings fanning softly. His golden glow is slowly returning. “I see the way he looks at you.”
I swallow, afraid of his answer. “And how is that?”
“Like he wishes he was mortal.”



Ultimately, due to the ending of this book that lead to an AMAZING finale, this got bumped to a 4.

It’s not often I go back and rescind old ratings, but with the way this series wove together, inevitably creating a very cohesive, high-stakes, romantic and perilistic nightmare, I couldn’t help but to become putty for Kiaran and Kam. Ultimately, this series deserves much more recognition and I am not willing to not review this accordingly…even if I reviewed book three first.

Now I see why Kadamach moved heaven and earth to find you.



It’s no secret that I had a few characters that I just couldn’t stand. I rarely am so bothered-and even rarer is me pointing it out in a review-that it effects the way I feel about a series as a whole but, here, it was ruining it. Plain and simple. The story started out dark. We knew she’d be okay, sure, but it started out with a little of what makes me tick, and I loved that because book one lacked a little of the tension I needed. So, we were good. But then it just got a little silly. Characters. Plot. And, ultimately, not really what I wanted or needed.

I know I shouldn’t trust Kiaran either. Not after everything he’s done. But the truth is, I can’t remember the single defining moment when I decided to trust Kiaran. It just . . . happened. Like the way I came to care so much for him just happened. Somewhere between our hunts and our kills and our kisses, he left his mark on my bones.



And then. AND THEN. The stakes were higher, the romance alluring, tortured, and a bit fatalistic (a theme in book three that catapulted the finale to a top favorite of mine), and it seemed like the author picked a direction and STUCK with it. I was finally where I wanted to be, and it continued into book three and we all know the rest is history.

“Why did you choose me?” It’s all I can do to keep my wits about me when he’s kissing me like this. Because when Kiaran kisses, he does it with the whole of himself.
He whirls me around with so much grace it’s as if he isn’t even trying. “Because you challenge me,” he tells me. And then we’re not dancing anymore. We’re standing pressed together, our hands entwined. “I chose you because you’re my equal.”



The way Kiaran treats Kam, the way he pines for her, the way he knows that even if they end up together, she won’t live as long as he, the way he knows it will all end in the blink of an eye…It just made me fall even deeper for them. He’d do anything for her, even as he knows it’s killing him slowly inside, seeing her slowly slip away, and seeing that even the smallest misstep means he could lose her no matter what he does. It’s just so damn gripping. And it’s honestly what helped me make it through this series when I didn’t know that I could.

We burn bright, and we burn out. That’s what it means to be human.



I wish I could say my reasons for rating it thusly were a bit deeper than that, but they aren’t. I’m simple, and I want simple things. Make a story interesting. Don’t make it easy. Add some tension. Add some romance that isn’t insta-fied, that the hero and heroine have to work to keep alive…and add some peril. Seriously. I’m as simple as that. Hell, if you create romantic tension and a plot that HALFWAY makes sense, I’ll likely enjoy it. That. Is. All. I. ASK.

Truth forces us to confront the ugliest parts of the people we love. The monstrous parts.



Luckily, where the first book and middle of second lacked, the end of book two and whole of three wrapped up the series and made it all wonderful. Book one was always good, but it definitely needed epic followers to make it memorable. So, here we are, and I dub it memorable. These books may have been shaky, but at least they found their way. And, unlike some other series that are epic up until the end, thus making me forget them, this series ended so well that when I think of it, all I think of is how epic it was. And we all know that’s not wholly true, but that’s how it works for me, and I’ll always remember this series positively and I’m more than happy about that.

I wonder whether the voices Daniel heard were talking about all the people I’ve lost, or if they were talking about Kiaran. Perhaps he’s my curse. Perhaps I’m his weakness. Together we left the world in ruins.




*********

Okay, what even ARE these books? They start SO strong, then I feel like the side characters kind of take me out of it (I just can’t with the pixie), but then they end where I am suckered right back in. I will admit, upon finishing this last night, that I immediately downloaded book three when before, I had been planning to jump to another series.

It’s true what they say-some epic things happen in this one and it really takes me there with my romantic/effed up peril. So. Ya know. When you’re fifty shades of fucked up and you find something that makes you tick, you kinda tend to stick with it. Like calls to like and all that jazz.

From 70% on I was trash for this book, and it really turned my opinion around concerning a lot of things. So, here we are.

Full review to come.

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