Category: Review (page 1 of 185)

BOOK REVIEW: Servant of the Crown by Melissa McShane

BOOK REVIEW: Servant of the Crown by Melissa McShaneServant of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontane #1)
by Melissa McShane
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life—until she’s summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane’s mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn’t seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she’s not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara’s playboy brother, who’s accustomed to getting what he wants—including the Countess of Waxwold.

When the fallout from an unfortunate public encounter throws the two of them together, Alison has no interest in becoming the Prince’s next conquest. But as the weeks pass, Alison discovers there’s more to Anthony than she—or he—realized, and their dislike becomes friendship, and then something more—until disaster drives Alison away, swearing never to return.

Then Alison is summoned by the Queen again, this time to serve as Royal Librarian. A threat to Tremontane’s government, with her treasured Library at stake, draws Alison into the conflict…and into contact with Anthony once more. Can they work together to save the Royal Library and Tremontane? And can she open her heart to love again?

Oh my gosh this was lovely and I had so many feels. I loved it so much more than I expected to- and it was nothing like I thought it would be. 

But a few words of precaution- this is a historical fiction / romance and there’s really no plot outside of the romance until the second half. The pacing is fairly slow (which I didn’t mind – it totally worked for the story…) but if you’re looking for something fast and magical, this book is not for you. It kind reminded me of Pride & Prejudice and some of the other historical romances though of course it is set in a fantasy world (without magic.) 

Basically Allison is summoned away to the palace to be a ‘lady in waiting’ for the queen’s mother. At the first ball, she meets Prince Antony (the queen’s brother and the dowager’s son – aka playboy and embarrassment to the crown). Once introduced, the dowager insists he dance with Allison, not realizing her son is terribly drunk. Allison was raised to be very ‘proper’ and practical and though she admits he’s quite handsome, she wants nothing to do with him. Regardless, they share a dance, in which the prince says something hilariously appalling to Allison – and Allison’s reaction is priceless (I don’t want to spoil.) 

Anyway, in order to save face, Queen Zara forces Allison and Antony to spend time in the public together. Neither are happy about the agreement, and its a slow burn that works SO well. Allison starts to see the man beneath the mask. Oh my gosh… when things finally take off with them, I had so many feels. I can’t even. Also, just a warning, things get a *little* steamy which I didn’t expect… but everything was tastefully done. 

Allison is such a frustrating MC which is my biggest complaint. She’s so stubborn and pretty much has it out against all men – convinced that they only want her for sex. If one so much as looks at her the wrong way, she gets upset. She DOES start to come around though when she realizes Antony isn’t really the nasty man he seems, until something awful happens (between them) and she flees the palace – swearing off men altogether. (I wanted to smack her.) 

After a few months, the Queen summons her again and offers her a proposition to stay and work in the library (promising she doesn’t have to even see Antony after what happened between them.) UGHH this is where I got so frustrated. Antony changed entirely and was so noble it literally hurt my heart and Ally kept brushing him off. Lord this woman… I wanted to scream at her to open her eyes. Yeesh woman, I get that you were really hurt in the past but COME ON. 

Anyway, a bunch of crap starts to happen and they are forced to work together and I won’t say much more than that, but the ending was just wonderful and so emotional. Also I need to brag on Queen Zara who is literally a badass. I hear there’s a novella about her and I’m all over that. 

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much I really loved this. Part of it was obviously the emotional aspect, but I also really loved the environment. Pretty much the entire book is in a gorgeous palace with little trips outside to theaters/etc. There’s plenty of balls, dancing, glittering dresses… you get the picture. 

I also wanted to note that I listened to the audio- so I’m not sure how that affected my view of the writing itself because the narrator was lovely. She was British and did the voices well. Definitely enhanced my experience. (BTW this is on sale on audible for only a few bucks!) 

I feel like this was Jane Austen meets Marie Rutkoski. I honestly can’t wait to read more by this author.

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell

BOOK REVIEW: Garden of Thorns by Amber MitchellGarden of Thorns by Amber Mitchell
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.

Let me start of by saying that overall this book was a ton of fun. The beginning (the first 30%) was SO GOOD. Seriously, I had no doubt I was going to rate this 5 stars. It was immediately gripping – I felt for the heroine so much and my heart just ached for her. Unfortunately it lost a bit of momentum for me – mostly because the heroine did WAY too much thinking about the love interest was amidst all the more important things going on. Regardless, the plot was really fun and I still recommend the book! 

Basically Rose is the ‘star performer’ of the Garden – a traveling burlesque full of girls who’ve been kidnapped/captured and forced into the rouse. It’s horribly sad and quite graphic how everything is written (in no way is it romanticized or glorified – but be aware.) The garden master keeps the girls in line by harming the ‘wilted’ girls – girls who are raised alongside of the performer girls. 

Anyway, after a horrific tragedy that I won’t mention, Rose realizes she must escape so that she can find a way to free the rest of the girls. During a performance in front of the emperor, she ends up taking someone hostage – not realizing he’s the ex prince and leader of a powerful rebellion. 

That all happens within the first few chapters so the book starts off VERY intense. 

Some of the highlights for me were the magic system (totally unique and looks super cool in my head) AND the book takes place in a fantasy nation that I believe was inspired by a mix of Japanese and Chinese cultures (I’m not an expert and I could be wrong but according to the terminology/descriptions, this is what it seemed like.) And Rayce, the former crown prince, was pretty much wonderful all around.

*Minor spoilers below – nothing big*

Rose ends up joining the rebellion, mostly because she wants to convince them to help rescue her friends. Things get pretty interesting as they are sent on missions. The pacing was really great all around. I also loved the fact that Rose’s secret was obvious and the author didn’t try to make it a big reveal. It was never meant to be a plot twist – she lets the reader piece it together it in Rose’s thoughts without a major ‘aha’ moment.

Let me be clear… this is a fantasy romance. It is the main focus (at least it is a semi slow burn). I’m not really one to complain about that if it’s done well – and even though I loved Rose as a character, I got reaaaally tired of her overanalyzing her feelings towards Rayce. Even amidst major scenes, she was thinking about him WAY too much. It didn’t even really line up with her character because she wasn’t petty or whiny at all. Some writing advice I received myself was to not ‘think too much for your reader’ and I believe this is what was happening here.

The whole ‘garden’ aspect was so unique (and heartbreaking). Mitchell’s storytelling was phenomenal and she definitely knows how to break your heart. While there were several creative elements, the main plot line wasn’t exactly anything new after the last 50% but I still enjoyed it. I’m glad I read it and I’d totally read another book by Amber Mitchell.

BOOK REVIEW – Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) by Darynda Jones

BOOK REVIEW –  Death, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2) by Darynda JonesDeath, Doom and Detention (Darklight #2)
by Darynda Jones
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

***Spoilers from Death and the Girl Next Door***

The normal part of Lorelei MacAlister's life didn't just slip away quietly the day Jared Kovach came to town. Nope. The normal part of her life shattered. It exploded. It burst into a gazillion shards of fleeting light.

It went out with a bang.
Goodbye normal.
Hello dark and eerie.

While her best friend, Brooklyn, is focusing all of her energy on helping Lorelei hone her abilities, Lorelei is dealing with the reality that Satan's second in command has taken up residence inside her body. Oh, and the fact that she has a crush on the Angel of Death. But what a beautiful death it is. If those weren't bad enough, something sinister has come to town and it wants nothing more than to hear Lorelei's dying breath as it strangles it out of her. Thank goodness the gang has a supernatural champion. But what happens when the only being who can save them switches sides midstream? How can a group of misfits capture one of the most powerful beings ever created? And will they find out how to bring Jared back to them before it's too late?

Review:

***Spoilers from Death and the Girl Next Door***

With sarcasm, intriguing characters, a wonderful pace and some twists and turns, Death, Doom, and Detention made for a pleasant second installment.  While I still didn’t care for some of the characters *cough Glitch and the twins cough*, and I was saddened that Jared didn’t fill the pages nearly enough, it was still a fun book to read!

My vision blurred as hot tears pooled between my lashes.  I gazed straight ahead.  “I don’t want to do this anymore,” I whispered to myself.

This time around, Lorelei was struggling.  Bad.  First, she had Satan’s second in command, Mal as she refers to it lol, inside her body.  Second,  her bestie Brooklyn was making her practice her abilities at every single chance she could get.  And third, the one boy she was madly in love with, Jared aka The Angel of Death, turned their relationship into just a friendship.  At the request of her grandparents.  And while I loved what a huge role her grandparents played in the books, they were definitely hurting Lorelei with their decision.  It felt as though life couldn’t be worse.  Or could it?  Wellll, it did get worse.  Because there seemed to something hunting Lorelei, and someone switched sides midstream *break my heart won’t you!*.  

“I’m sorry I woke you up,” I said to him as my lids drifted down.
“You didn’t.” he looked out into the darkness.  “Something else did.”

With all of those pressing issues, there was a lot more action in this book!  And I’m grateful that there was more going on, because we didn’t get to spend as much time with Jared.  Oh, this made me heartbroken, because I loved him.  I wanted moments filled with chemistry and kisses, so I felt frustrated at times.  And it didn’t help that I could care less about Glitch or the twins.  When they were on the pages, I just wanted to scream give me Jared instead!  What can I say?  I get super attached to characters I love.  

I felt a sprinkle then, a drop of rain, and I knew everything I’d ever known was about to change.

Thankfully I enjoyed Lorelei, Brooklyn and Cameron, and we spent lots of time with them!  With new presences, a new ability, and a lot of unknowns, they constantly had to count on one another.  It was fun watching their trust and respect for each other grow.  Strong friendships for the win!  There’s also an element of who’s bad and who’s good thrown in throughout the book.  It didn’t feel as though they were safe around anyone.  Even the kids they went to high school with.  So I was always on edge wondering what was going to happen next.  So while yes, it was a fun book, I definitely struggled at times.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the final book flows a little bit differently, because I am nervous and excited to see how this series wraps up!

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
death and the girl next door darynda jones
Death and the Girl Next Door #1
Reviews:

Jen
death, doom and detention darynda jones
Death, Doom and Detention #2
Reviews:
Jen
death and the girl he loves darynda jones
Death, and the Girl He Loves #3

BOOK REVIEW – Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1) by Darynda Jones

BOOK REVIEW – Death and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1) by Darynda JonesDeath and the Girl Next Door (Darklight #1)
by Darynda Jones
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Ten years ago, Lorelei's parents disappeared without a trace. Raised by her grandparents and leaning on the support of her best friends, Lorelei is finally beginning to accept the fact that her parents are never coming home. For Lorelei, life goes on.

High school is not quite as painful as she thinks it will be, and things are as normal as they can be. Until the day the school's designated loner, Cameron Lusk, begins to stalk her, turning up where she least expects it, standing outside her house in the dark, night after night. Things get even more complicated when a new guy―terrifying, tough, sexy Jared Kovach―comes to school. Cameron and Jared instantly despise each other and Lorelei seems to be the reason for their animosity. What does Jared know about her parents? Why does Cameron tell Jared he can't have Lorelei? And what will any of them do when Death comes knocking for real? Thrilling, sassy, sexy, and inventive, Darynda Jones's first foray into the world of teens will leave readers eager for the next installment.

Review:

Death and the Girl Next Door was so much fun and a quick read.  The story-line was easy to follow, and within those first few chapters I knew some of the characters and I would get along just fabulously.  There was  a wonderful mix of personalities, and I loved how many of them had sarcasm as their form of humor.  While I had a few hangups with some of the people, and not wanting info dragged out longer than should need be, Death and the Girl Next Door was still exactly what this paranormal lover was looking for.

Nothing would ever be fine again.

Lorelei has had visions for as long as she could remember and it would occur, at times, when she touched someone.  The visions would be a peak into that person’s life, whether it was a glimpse into their past or their future.  There were also times when the visions didn’t make any sense at all.  But regardless, I loved how she accepted that this was just a part of who she was.  And her two best friends, Brooklyn and Glitch, did too.

“Oh my god,” Brooklyn said.  She swung her surprised look at me.  “Just what did you two talk about this morning?”
I beamed, not daring to breathe as he walked towards us. “Oh, you know, the usual.  School.  The weather.  How many children we want.”
I expected Brooklyn to at least giggle, but apparently her current state of shock had immobilized her vocal cords.  What I hadn’t expected, however, was the faint laughter from Jared.  He lowered his eyes like before, as though embarrassed by what someone had said.  As if embarrassed by what I’d said.  No way could he have heard me.  Not from that far away.

But things started to get weird when the class loner Cameron, who they’ve known since grade school, started appearing everywhere Lorelei was.  Including outside her house all night long.  Creepy!  And then things become even stranger when we met the new hot guy at school, Jared.  Jared had a lot mystery surrounding him from just his name (I was like uhhh really, that’s how you’re going to play it?! Lol) to how he made Lorelei feel.  So when push comes to shove, and Lorelei’s whole world explodes on a city street, things got a lot more interesting!

He leaned forward and whispered in my ear.  His warm breath sent shivers cascading over my body.  “You intoxicate me, Lorelei McAlister.  You will be my downfall.”

I absolutely loved Lorelei.  So I was happy to struggle right along with her, with not only trying to figure out what some people were, but also who was good and who was bad.  Because while she’d always known Cameron, he acted a little psychotic lately.  And while she didn’t know anything about Jared, he made her heart do crazy things and I wanted him around just as much as she did.  So be warned, there was a little bit of insta-love going on in this book.  But regardless, I loved both of those boys!  Cameron and Jared were broody, grumpy, held on to their secrets extremely tight and I just wanted to learn everything about them.  And don’t worry, there wasn’t a love triangle at all.

“…..My desires are a bit more…self-serving.” he said with a wry gleam.  “So, no, Lorelei, I should not be here.  In a thousand different ways, I shouldn’t be here.”

Normally friends can fade into the dark when supernatural elements get involved, but thankfully Brooklyn and Glitch got to learn right along with Lorelei.  Btw, I loved Brooklyn.  She was funny, warm and I saw a lot potential for a possible future love interest for her.  But Glitch? *shrugs*  He never won me over, I never connected with him and I just didn’t care about him.  I’m sorry Glitch.  Another thing I never connected with were the twins, Ashlee and Sydnee, and I didn’t get Lorelei’s hatred towards Brooke – those were people they all went to school with.  But even with my issues towards not understanding feelings or not caring about certain characters, it was still so easy to become lost in their world.  I absolutely adored this book, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series goes!  Plus I can’t wait to spend more time with Jared so I can fall even harder for him, and Cameron too!

PS Yes, I know I didn’t talk a lot about what happened in the story, but but but spoilers.  It’s hard to say anything without giving everything away. 😉

Reading Order & Links:
Amazon (click on covers), iBooks (click on titles) & Book Depository (click on book #)
death and the girl next door darynda jones
Death and the Girl Next Door #1
Reviews:

Jen
death, doom and detention darynda jones
Death, Doom and Detention #2
Reviews:
Jen
death and the girl he loves darynda jones
Death, and the Girl He Loves #3

BOOK REVIEW – The Vincent Boys: Extended and Uncut (The Vincent Boys #1) by Abbi Glines

BOOK REVIEW – The Vincent Boys: Extended and Uncut (The Vincent Boys #1) by Abbi GlinesThe Vincent Boys: Extended and Uncut (The Vincent Boys #1)
by Abbi Glines
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

There was something wicked about Beau that drew me to him. What was wrong with me? Why did I want to sin so badly?

Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.

Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.

Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist...

Review:

The Vincent Boys was sweet, addicting, hot, a little dirty and so much fun!  You quickly emerge into their lives and everything becomes so clear, so fast.  Ashton, aka Ash, has been friends with the Vincent Boys since she was a kid.  And the Vincent Boys, Sawyer and Beau, are not only bffs, but cousins too.  The three of them did everything together, although Ash and Beau were the trouble makers.  The things they did as kids, oh my goodness lol, thank goodness they had Sawyer who was always there to bail them out.  But then three years ago, Sawyer and Ash started going out, and their little group of three completely changed.  

Watching her laugh and play as we dove into the oncoming waves made it feel as if our years apart had just disappeared. There was then and now. The lost time in between was erased. Being with her made me feel complete. She’d always been the one to hold me together when my world crumbled around me. – Beau

On that first page, you watch Ash come across a drunk Beau and his girlfriend.  She doesn’t want to stop and help them out, but she knows that’s what Sawyer, her boyfriend, would do.  Since Sawyer’s away for part of the summer, and she’s always trying her hardest to be as good as him, she stops.  From just that one interaction, a domino affect occurs.  Ash and Beau start hanging out, and they realize how much they miss each other’s company.  But nothing is as simple as it was years ago.

If I’d ever taken the time to wonder about my soul being as black as this town seemed to believe, I knew the moment Ashton stepped out of her little white Jetta, looking like an angel from heaven, that my soul was damned to hell. – Beau

And this is where I have to stop for a second.  Because normally I loathe books about cheating.  I’m one of those people who won’t forgive the characters for their transgressions and my star rating will plummet because of how they hurt someone they love.  But I wasn’t attached to Ash and Sawyer’s relationship.  I never saw it and I had no loyalty to him whatsoever.  And maybe it’s horrible to say, but I was shocked when I realized how much I wanted Ash and Beau to cheat.  I wanted to see them together, because their friendship was beautiful and their chemistry was addicting.  

The right thing to do would be to say no. But I always did the right thing. Always. Just this once I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I let the bad girl out just a little. – Ash

So here’s Ash, the town’s preachers daughter, and Beau, the town’s trouble maker, sneaking around so they could spend time together.  And with Beau, Ash doesn’t have to act or pretend.  She can be her true self.  I loved how similar Ash and Beau were in certain ways.  They were both passionate, thoughtful, kind-hearted and they both liked it a little dirty.  I won’t ever forget how Beau liked to talk dirty to Ash.  Usually that’s not my thing, but hey a girl can change her mind.  Especially when Beau is the one doing the talking lol.  So their moments together were hot and it was so addicting watching everything spiral out of control.

“Touch me,” she whispered. The fact she was Sawyer’s girl no longer seemed to matter. I couldn’t tell her no. Hell, I couldn’t tell myself no. – Beau

While the story was at times cliché and had some conversations that were a little cheesy, it didn’t matter.  Because they were done in a way that I loved.  So if you’re looking for a book that’s filled with drama, friendship, true love and finding out how far you’re willing to go to not only find yourself but for the one you want, then this could definitely be your book!

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