A blog dedicated to reviewing and promoting the books I love.
OK. Here I am waving the white flag. I take back what I said at the end of the last Vlad book when talking about how Ian got the short end of the stick (check that out here).
I went into this novel with very little expectation of anything. My resolve to read this, in the first place, was because I liked Ian enough as a character in all of Jeaniene Frost's other books that I'd be open to "taking one for the team" as they say. Color me surprised when I actually started to *gasp* like their story.
Ian was dirty minded and ladened in innuendo humor as ever! He's a very entertaining character to be around and it made the dull moments in this story colorful, to say the least. I liked how he initially fought his interest in Veritas. It made for quite a few hilarious situations!
Having read most of the novels in the Night Huntress World universe I had a somewhat strong dislike of Veritas. It took me even longer than Ian to warm up to her. Getting to know her background, everything she's gone through and what she still does under the guise of being a Guardian I understand her side of things a lot better now. I love her dedication to Ian in the end and how selfless she was in her mission to protect him.
The ending had me fuming for a solid hour (I listened to the audio book). I swore if the author had coped to the cliché(show spoiler)
plot point I would have given up on this series then and there. I was SO glad for what that epilogue revealed (which was a first for me). Now it's a waiting game for the next novel in this series to get released.
The Audio Book:
The overall narration was good. There were times when certain characters sounded too much alike so I did get lost in conversation from time to time. What took me off guard and had me grinding my teeth was Bone's voice. I initially despised the accent Tavia Gilbert chose for him in the Night Huntress Series. I eventually learned to relate her accent for him with him as a character. This book was narrated by the same person who narrated the Night Huntress Series and yet she changed his accent! Would I have liked this accent to have been in the original series? You bet I would have. But it's not. So why did it get changed!? So even though this was Ian's book, all I could think about was how wrong Bone's accent was (even though he didn't play a big part in the story).
I've said it before and I'll say it again I love the writing style and overall pace of the stories this author writes! Something just clicks for me with most of the books (with exceptions of course) I've read by her. I don't know how she did it but she made me become impartial to a trope I usually dislike in books: the insta-love/lust.
Calandra was a great character to get to know! I don't usually read books about royalty so this was a nice and strange change of pace for me. Her overall demeanor was fun to understand and watch as Tyler took down her walls layer by layer. I also loved that she questioned how instantaneous her relationship was.
Tyler has popped up in a few of this author's other stories. It was great to see him as the main character for once. He's sweet, respectful and protective. I really liked seeing him showing human emotions with him being so "alpha" and all. It was a good change of pace for the "alpha male" stereotype. I'm also very intrigued with all of his brothers. I would love a series on them in the near future!
If I'm being honest, I would have liked the stalker reveal to have been more strung along. It happened way too fast and everyone was way too conveniently there for there to have been any real stakes involved. Overall, this was a great read! I especially like how the next book is already set up!
My Favorite Quotes:
"If you let fear rule you, you're as good as dead."
"I'd lived my whole life with one foot in the oast and one in the future. I was tired of straddling that impossible line."
"Life wasn't based on merit, and justification was for the weak."
This novel was TOO long-winded and was not worth 15 hours of my time. The basic concept is interesting but the way this was written doesn't do the story justice. The only way I finished this novel was by speeding up the audio book because things weren't moving and I was too far into the novel to justify not finishing it.
Layla makes SO many bad decisions and it always goes bad but she has yet to learn any lessons from the things she goes through. She's too naive and predictable. It's only gotten worse in this novel. All the rash and dumb decisions she makes has reached its quota for me. She's become more and more unlikable with every chapter.
This may or may not be an unpopular opinion with this trilogy, but how in the world is this love triangle even worth it at this point? Both "teams" are so bad in different ways and for different reasons. All the lying, making things up and secrets piling up only serve to make everything more dramatic and long-winded. Zayn seems to have a death wish in the form of trusting someone that can't even control her abilities (and those abilities can actually get him killed). Roth with all his lies and his noble justifications can't make everything that happened as a consequence to that all go away just by saying sorry.
The demons the author includes in this series (which was emphasized with the dance club scene with Roth) makes it seem like the demon world is a whole other complex universe, but it doesn't come across in the story. The wardens, especially, have an archaic system and think of themselves as "saviors" of some kind. Truthfully, they just keep getting worse and worse as a group. The other demons aren't even explored. They're just declared monsters to be killed or creatures to be run off. The story would have been more interesting had there been more of a focus on them instead of all the drama and "danger" surrounding Layla.
What the heck was that ending? I saw that coming from miles away (just like the twists in the first book). I'm starting to think that maybe it's what the author was going for. There weren't enough "twists" to this story to make this novel keep my attention.
My Consensus: This story only happened because everyone lied to someone about some important thing at one point in time. I wish it went deeper than that because the world the author created could have made for a really good story.
A Note: I'd like to mention how glad I was to see that the girl on girl hate has lessened (compared to the first novel), but the slut-shaming is at an all-time high (especially in the beginning).
The Audio Book:
This narrator isn't for me. There was barely any distinction between male and female voices this time around. There was also a few parts where I couldn't tell what was story narration and what was a character speaking.
This series has proven itself to be amazing! I love how the stories are set up and span a full book with no cliffhanger at the end. The writing and pacing are great! Books by Annette Marie just keep getting better and better with every new release.
I love Tori's sense of humor and how sassy she is even in inappropriate moments. The backbone she's sporting makes her one heck of an interesting character as well. All that being said, I also have soft spot for her. Especially now after learning a little more about her past in this book. I will admit that Tori made a lot of idiotic and life endangering decisions on a whim in this story but it didn't feel out of character for her (as strange as that may sound coming from someone who abhors dumb decisions main characters seem to love to make).
I'm having trouble telling the three mages apart. The only one I automatically think of is Erza and that's because I'm rooting for him to somehow have a permanent thing with Tori. It's looking like a long shot if you're only considering this novel but I'm still hopeful... to a degree.
Is it bad that I kind of want a side story/spin-off series/novella on Ghost and his possibility at a happy ending? He's won me over enough that I want to get to know him when he's in his element and with someone he trusts.
Even though I rated this book 5 stars I will say I missed the little bit of romance, that the first book in this series had, in this one. I'm a lover of the romance genre at heart so even though I understand this is an urban fantasy novel I still wanted more development in that department. I can also admit that the overall adventure was awesome!
The Audio Book:
The narration was great! I could tell all the character's apart even when 3 or more were in a conversation. I also wasn't getting lost or confused in any part of the novel due to the narration.
I've lost count of the number of times I've picked up this book over the years and inevitably put it down because something else caught my attention. Books by this author used to be my jam, but it doesn't seem to be holding up anymore. This novel was very slow paced through the beginning, but when things speed up it was so good.
The heroine (with the exception of the very end) was out of the loop on everything and it wasn't a fun ride. It seemed like the author wanted to make her appear to be this sassy kick-butt heroine (especially when you take into account her being half gargoyle and half demon) but I don't think it was accomplished in the first 90% of this novel.
This book wasn't an exception where my stance on love triangles was concerned. Both love interests were sketchy and were looking out for their own interests by protecting Layla. Though Roth eventually won me over to his side because he presented himself as more competent but mysterious. Zayne, for the most part, was portrayed as a little boy who follows the rules the patriarchy sets for him even if he doesn't necessarily agree with them.
An annoying conclusion I came to throughout this story was that it was only possible because of all the lying that was happening. The gargoyles were the biggest hypocrites of them all and the leader refused to listen to reason even when it was presented in a respectful way. He could never see past Layla's demon half even though he raised her to essentially hate half of herself.
Overall, I disliked how absurdly easy it was for an outside source to figure out the supposedly "complex" riddle that leads to an ancient possession that a lot of creatures were looking for for years and years. I'd also like to mention that most of what happened in this story could be seen coming from miles and miles away. This isn't what I'd call a book of twists and turns. Despite all that I've mentioned in this review I do intend to continue on with this series considering how the book ended. I'm too invested for my own good at this point.
The Audio Book:
The narration was pleasant and that's about it. The overall tone was relaxing, which is what I usually look for in an audio book but there were a lot of times where there wasn't much of a distinction between male and female voices. That ended up confusing me for a few lines of conversation throughout the story until I figured out who was supposed to be who again.
This was such a good book! I loved seeing characters from this author's other novels coming together to help out a fellow comrade. I like seeing the family dynamic all these grown men have with men they served with in the military.
I adore Collins. He's a perfect balance of the so-called "alpha" trope and being a respectful human being. He doesn't cross the line from "alpha" into jack*ss, which I am eternally grateful to the author for. I liked how he pushed when something was dire but respected her wishes to not talk about something when it was irrelevant to any situation.
Brooke rubbed me to wrong way in so many instances throughout this novel. I understand the abuse victim mentality and it was portrayed well in this novel (as far as I can tell) but boy! was is annoying to have to read through it. I can respect someone running away after being offered help from a complete stranger who happens to be a huge muscled man who kind-of-but-not-really stalks you after the person you're truly running away from finds you. I know I'm asking too much but half the story wouldn't have had to happen had she accepted/asked for help from the beginning.
The ending was what I was expecting with a few twists that I didn't see coming. I liked how things got resolved. I liked seeing both Collins and Brooke happy for once. I loved seeing Neil from a different perspective. I can't wait to see what the next story in this series is going to be!
My Favorite Quotes:
"Make peace or die. [...] Fear serves a purpose. Panic doesn't."
"This isn't an obligation, duty or pity. You don't get to glorify what I am."
"If you're in trouble, I'm always an option for you."
I came across this book because a few people on Goodreads that are in my feed recently re-read a few books in this series and were saying how amazing this series as a whole is. After reading a novella in the series (which in this type of series that feature a different couple in every book should be able to stand alone in my opinion) I don't see what everyone else saw in this book.
This novel (probably because it's a novella in the series) didn't do a good job educating me on how the universe the author built worked. My biggest grievance was with the collars. I wanted to understand how they came to be specifically and how they were built, how long they took to become a necessity. The heroine (for having lived in this world as long as she had) was no help whatsoever. She was just as uninformed as me (the reader) which made her come off as very dense and quite naive.
Ronan was an okay guy. Though he did get overly possessive way too quickly of Elizabeth. Which leads me to something else I disliked about this story: the insta-love. I understand it's a novella, but things getting that "deep" that quickly doesn't work for me.
The ending was rushed and way too easily resolved. Nothing made me feel like anything was a life-or-death situation so it didn't have the emotional impact the author probably wanted. Overall, I would have liked to have had more information on the universe the author created present in this novel, for people like me, who don't always start a standalone book series on the first book.
The Audio Book:
The overall narration was nice, but the story felt like it was missing something which made everything not so good. I will say that there were some words that, to me, were miss pronounced because I'm so used to hearing them spoken one way on tv shows, movies and other book narrations that every time they were said I would cringe a little.
This was a nice story, but the cover and synopsis made me so apprehensive to pick this up. The cover, in particular, doesn't represent this novel in the slightest and the synopsis made me feel icky about what the relationship was going to be like.
To be honest, there were still some parts of this novel that made my skin crawl if I were to REALLY think about it. The relationship from the outside looking in almost had a stockholm syndrome feel. The age difference isn't really that many years (and isn't what bothered me), but the fact that Leka raised her since she was about five years old just rubs me the wrong way even though they aren't related in any way.
My heart broke for the circumstances Leka and Bitsy were in. Leka took the brunt of it all by doing bad things to make a living. He was never at peace with what he did or helped do. It was always a means to an end. It also made me feel a tad bit less icky with how much he initially fought the relationship between him and Bitsy.
Bitsy as a kid was a bit too well spoken in her chapters (in the first half of the novel) and later on would become a very stubborn and goal oriented woman. There were times when she was childish because things with Leka weren't going her way. The decisions she took to try and get a major reaction out of him only put her in more danger and made her look dumb and desperate. Most of the second half of this story wouldn't have happened had she and Leka sat down and communicated like adults. I also didn't understand why everyone loved to point out how "not pretty" Bitsy was. What was up with that?
This novel didn't have the emotional impact I was expecting it to have. There were a few magical moments here and there but, for most of the novel, everything felt stuck on the surface. There were also a few parts where I would have liked a better transition instead of the character making me guess the new setting they were in and how they got there for a chapter or two.
Overall this was an interesting story after I put aside my biases and just accepted it for what it was. The way the author went about extracting Leka out of the gang life though was way too easily done for me. Everything went too right for them and nothing ever came knocking with consequences ((show spoiler)
My Favorite Quotes:
"I might not be a queen of a country, but I'm ready to rule my own domain."
"We were both dealt terrible hands in life, but fate made up for it by bringing us together."
"We're going to make it out together or not at all."
Annette Marie has done it again! This was a fantastic start to what I can already tell is going to be an amazing series! I love how detail oriented the universe's she creates are. The narration and pace to the story were great and has left me wanting more.
Tori was a fascinating character to get to know. She has quite a temper and refuses to take anyone's crap. Those personality traits don't make it easy for her to keep a job until sheer luck and coincidence make an appearance. I liked seeing her relationship with the guys evolve and how the other patrons went from hostile to reluctantly respectful towards her.
If I'm honest I had a hard time telling the guys (Kai, Aaron, and Ezra) apart during the story. They didn't make a big enough of an impression on me, in the beginning, to make it easier to differentiate them throughout the story. Though by the end I can say that even though I like Aaron, I'm definitely on team Ezra.
The ending surprised me because, for a second there, I was sure this was going to end in a cliffhanger. I'm SO glad that it didn't. I'm excited for the next book now more than ever!
The Audio Book:
Cris did an awesome job with the narration! She has a good range of female and male voices. I didn't get lost in conversations trying to guess which character was speaking.
This was an average story that made it so time passed a little faster for me while listening to it. My main issue: Everything felt only surface deep. There wasn't much substance to anything or anyone in this series. The world building felt off, in a way that everything was explained so loosely and on the surface that nothing ever felt real (if that makes any kind of sense).
Aria as an interesting character, but she would make really dumb choices considering how her world is running amok with paranormal creatures that only relying on their respective leaders to control and lead. I also didn't understand her out of character infatuation (in the second half of the book) with the men in her life.
Hunter was the one character I was starting to like. He was loyal, reliable and proved he cared about Aria throughout the story. Though that was about it. It's mentioned he's, in essence, this bad*ss mercenary, but it's not showcased. It's just there for convenience and plot sake.
The kind of sorta love triangle with the guy who has powers similar to hers (whose name I forget) was creepy from the start. He had to almost strongarm her into meeting for coffee (which ended up happening because coincidences is totally a realistic plot choice) like he was entitled to her in some way and it only got worse with the end. I don't understand how Aria felt anything for him after all that.
I enjoyed how menacing and villainous the big-bad-powerful-leaders were. Every one of them had ulterior motives for whatever the situation they were dealing with was. It made them a few of the more entertaining characters in this story.
In conclusion, everything felt shallow and that's what ultimately made me not love this story. I guess it's a good thing, considering I only found out about the problems this story/author/series has with copying specific elements of stories from other authors (allegedly) after the fact.
The Audio Book:
I've learned to love Nicole Poole's narrations! The voices (male and female) and accents were amazing.
I loved the first book in this series. I also enjoyed how Maxen's book was set up with little tidbits in that book as well. However, I can't say I loved this book. Though this was very well written and the pacing is just right the prologue threw me for a loop.
Maxen is an overall nice and outgoing guy. He also enjoys causal hookups and has developed a drug problem. As much as I like guys who are playboys evolving into marriage material throughout a story something felt off about this. When Maxen is presented in present day he's out of rehab and is doing his best to not relapse. What really threw me off was the prologue. It's one thing to be told that Maxen was/is a womanizer, but it becomes something else when I see it play out in the prologue of his book.
I couldn't, for the life of me, connect with Lark as a character either. I didn't understand the checklist she felt she had to have in life to "live a fulfilling life". Her current boyfriend was a nightmare. She was deluding herself into a lifestyle she thought she need to have and because of that, she lost me from the beginning. I also never felt the chemistry between her and Maxen. Though after things hit the fan she proved she had a backbone and that she was willing to fight for what she wanted for her life.
Overall this was an average read. The prologue threw me off and that snowballed into the rest of the story. If I had known I would have probably skipped it altogether because it doesn't play that big of a part in the book, but it does factor into how their relationship or lack thereof started and it is alluded to a few times throughout the story. I also felt this book was missing a few tidbits to set up/get me interested in the next book. The other band mates are a big mystery at this point but I'm interested in what the author has in store for them.
My Favorite Quotes:
"[..] I'm only human and I can be lost too."
"Emotions, relationships, and new beginnings could be so frightening that saying nothing and waiting, presented the only safe alternative."
This novel felt different from all the other novels I've read by this author which I was particularly strange considering how this is a prequel series to her Steel & Stone series (which I adored). This could also have been due to the fact that I've been hyping this book up in my head for months now waiting for the audio books to be released.
I've grown accustomed to reading about strong and goal-oriented women in this authors novels, so having Cleo as a heroine was somewhat odd. She's powerful, but she's also a walking disaster all the while being manipulated by someone she calls family. She's naive to the point that is was getting frustrating and annoying. In the beginning, it was coincidence after disaster after pure luck with all the situations she got into. What I can say about her, off that bat, is that she's brave and will bulldoze through anything after she's set her mind to it. With all that being said, I can imagine she's going to become a kick*ss heroine due to her circumstances as this trilogy progresses, but it still felt off.
In the Steel & Stone series, Lyre is a bad*ss spell weaver. This trilogy takes place a few years before that, so I couldn't realistically expect him to be the same person. With all that being said, something also felt off about him. It's probably because I was looking for the carefree-but-still-strung-tight Lyre and what I got was a succubus who was still finding his way in life while trying to balance his controlling family and how out of place he felt there. It's going to be interesting to see how he evolves and becomes the mysterious Lyre we got to know in the Steel & Stone series.
The ending had me on the edge of my seat because I was suspecting a plot twist that, thankfully, never came to pass. This author sure does know how to write scary and powerful villains that kept me on my toes waiting for the other shoe to drop for most of the novel. I liked how nicely the next book in this trilogy was set up.
The Audio Book:
The overall narration for both narrators was nice, but I didn't love the voice Melissa Moran did for Lyre. Maybe it's because I recently listened to the companion novel to the steel & stone series (also narrated by Greg Tremblay) and his Lyre voice is somewhat better.
This book was better than the first book, but still not as action-packed and as well paced as I'd like. The characters were, overall, much more likable and did a lot for keeping me interested in the story.
Shayna was a fun and sassy person. Her impulsive decisions made for a predictable but rather realistic story. The almost ending caught me by surprise and I loved seeing her "in her element" and how respectful and understanding Billy was about it.
Billy was an overall great guy (still) dealing with issues (both mental and physical) from his time in the military. He was sweet, caring and most importantly emotionally present (which is rare in the alpha character trope). I liked how observant he was of the smallest details and how he appreciated when Shayna put effort into doing things his way so he wouldn't have to re-do them later. Billy and Shayna had amazing banter and chemistry. I wish that he'd told her how he felt earlier in the novel so the conclusion didn't feel so rushed.
The ending was no surprise, but it felt rushed when compared to the overall pace of the story. The world the author continued to develop in this series felt a little bigger this time around. The standout character for me in this novel was Mo and I'd love to read his story in a future book in this series.
My Favorite Quotes:
"There was absolutely no way to experience crisis, trauma, and violence - or even the threat of it - without it changing the way you viewed the world."
"It took losing the choice about whether to turn right or left to highlight which path you'd really wanted to go down all along."
My expectations were high for this novel because I've loved most (if not all) of this author's past few book releases. I'm so glad that this novel lived up to my expectations! This authors writing style is so good! The overall pacing of the story was perfect. I love seeing this authors evolution in every book she releases because they keep getting better and better.
Dreena was an interesting character with somewhat of a dark backstory. You never knew what mood she was and in (especially in the beginning) and what she would do next. She was predictably unpredictable and her dynamic with Tank worked well for the story. I loved the overall female empowerment message this book featured with an event that happened to Dreena. I liked how supportive Tank was of the whole situation.
I both like and dislike certain aspects of Tank. I liked it when he was caring, sweet and open to Dreena, but I disliked it when he would get unnecessarily overprotective, domineering and bossy on a drop of a hat. I understand that's what the whole "alpha" character trait embodies, but I wasn't a fan when it came to that part of Tank. Though one thing that became consistent in the second half of the novel was his need to protect and treasure Dreena because somewhere along the way he fell for her too.
Overall the ending was so cute and sweet but it caught me off guard. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't what was presented. I did enjoy it though! I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in this series!
My Favorite Quotes:
"I was stupid, foolishly, idiotically thinking she was that one in a million."
"Your past isn't your fault. It doesn't change a single damn second [...] or have any influence on what I'm asking."
"Life is only as complicated as you make it [...]."
This novel started off fairly interesting and with so much potential. Halfway through the story/audio book, it lost something critical which lead to me rushing through it just to get it over with. The overall writing style was good, but the pacing was slow and the character's only made it worse for me.
Kristina started off as a devoted, loyal and understanding friend. I loved how she wanted to help Noah get back on his feet out of sheer respect for him as a person. After Noah introduced the possibility of them being together and going back on it she became a needy and unsure annoyance. Then again, after all he put her through they actually deserve each other.
Noah was a marine who was discharged after an accident that left him with what seems like PTSD, hearing and sight loss on his left side (please correct me if I'm wrong!). I understand him lashing out in the beginning and maybe going back on his decision for something more with Kristina one time, but everything after that had me very angry. The hot and cold thing he had going on was becoming more and more frustrating by the minute. He ended up turning himself into a douche. At one point, it felt like the relationship was moving one step forward and 20 steps back because nothing concrete ever happened.(show spoiler)
Ethan was a hidden gem in this book! This novel may not have officially contained a love triangle, but I'm still proclaiming myself as Team Ethan. He was so nice and understanding. At one point I was so annoyed at Noah I was hoping for there to be a plot twist for Ethan to have a chance. I'd love to read Ethan's story. He seems much more interesting than Noah.
I only finished this book because I sped up the narration times two in the last hour. This story was getting so unreasonable and the characters were so annoying that that was the only way I was going to contemplate finishing it in the first place. The universe the author created with this novel felt very small. I also would have preferred the 'Warrior Fight Club' being mentioned earlier in the novel because it was mostly filler up to that point. Considering it's also the name of the series I was getting worried when it took so long to get mentioned.
The Audio Book:
The narration as a whole was great. I could differentiate between characters easily. My overall problem was due to the story and not with the narration.
This story started off very good. The character's felt realistic and the problems brought up were very much plausible and would make for an interesting story. Halfway through the book, I don't know what went so wrong. It felt like the end of this book was missing because the only thing that was resolved was the differences the couple had.
Megan started off as a great character. She's 18 and has always dreamed of finding her mate to the point of wanting it to be a fairytale, which was naive of her, but still very sweet. Halfway through the book, she becomes a whiny brat and at the almost end she starts to justify how her mate treated her because of his bad past. In my world regardless of what you've been through it doesn't give anyone the right to mistreat anyone.
James went from mysterious stranger, to jack*ss of the century, to caring and sweet in the span of this novel. I started off giving him the benefit of the doubt and ended up despising him. There was no in between with him, it was either all or nothing. The biggest problem his relationship with Megan had could have easily been resolved by sitting down and talking it out. Instead, both parties chose to avoid each other.
At one point, I started hoping that the mating with James was a fluke and that Robin or Tommy were the potential suitors. Unlike James, they were sweet, open to conversation and treated Megan like a person from the beginning. I'd really love to see them get a happy ending.
The overall writing and pacing were good, but there were some parts of the book where there were too many descriptions and in other parts I was left to fill in the blanks myself. The overuse of the words 'alpha' and 'dominant' got old very quickly. The character monologues were also very repetitive which only served to fill up space.
I was almost positive that this book was going to end by either setting up a new character spin-off (because of how present Robin and Tommy were in this story) or by killing off the evil things mentioned in the novel. None of those things happened and I'm still confused about it. Maybe I'm so used to spin-off novels of different characters in the stories I read that I assumed wrong with this novel.
A Note: When I first saw the cover I thought this was going to be a 50 Shades type book and the synopsis doesn't help clear that up. It was only after I saw this marked as 'young adult' that my interests were piqued. After reading the story and somewhat understanding the red ribbon ritual it does go well with the book. Though I think it could have been done better because anyone who looks at this cover will not think young adult first.
My Favorite Quotes: