A blog dedicated to reviewing and promoting the books I love.
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:
This was one of the first few books this author released. I can definitely see the potential that would continue to evolve and become the romance author she is today. As beautiful as this story was the emotional potency she tends to evoke in me in her later novels weren't all that strong in this one. It was still a very well written story.
The heroine (Erica) is introduced in a very graphic and stomach-churning first scene. I usually don't mind most situations but this was one of the few books that almost had me tapping out because of it. Erica was traumatized and was almost broken because of it all. The seconds of "clarity" (AKA being herself) she would exhibit with Slate was amazing. Her journey of learning to live with her trauma and love again was beautiful.
Slate was amazing! I loved how understanding and respectful he was towards Erica. At the same time, he also pushed her just enough out of her comfort zone for her to try and have normal experiences due to her circumstances and secrets.
The ending was sweet! Though the "big bad" Erica and Leo were running from throughout the story was defeated way too easily, but I never saw it coming. I loved seeing her back in her element and living life to its fullest with Slate in the end.
The Audio Book:
Both narrations were great! I'm not usually a fan of male narrators, but the story sucked me in so well that I wouldn't even realize the narrator switched until the almost end of the chapter. I would have liked for both narrators to have more range in different female and male voices because there were a few times when I lost track of who was saying what.
* This review may contain spoilers for past books in this series.
This book was bittersweet in the best way possible! Every time I thought I knew what to expect I had the pleasure of having the rug pulled out from under me. Don't get me wrong, I was loving every minute of it! I also adored how well interlaced the storylines are. There are quite a few small tidbits that were presented in past books that are just now growing into complex plot points. I can't wait to see where this goes!
I don't know how this author does it but she's succeeded in making me care about every single main character in the Keystone group. I'm too invested in everyone's happily ever after and I don't know what to do with myself until that happens.
Just when I thought things were going too well with Christian and Raven things went 50 steps bad in the span of one conversation. Why can't they be happy and stay happy? Christian has proven time and time again that he actually cares about Raven in more than a fling kind of way. Raven reciprocates his feelings, but they're doomed to be apart. I will riot. They need a happily ever after. And none of this "all in good time" BS.
I jokingly predicted the Patrick twist at 1 am while I was listening to the audio book and slightly delirious. I was so proud of myself for that one! I loved the solution Shepherd's dilemma came to thought. It was sweet and imperfect. Just like the Keystone group/family.
Had I known the epilogue would drop that bomb I would have probably held off on reading it until the next book released. Things were bad until then between Raven and Christian, but I can imagine that thanks to that twist it's going to get much worse before it gets better.
The Audio Book:
I have nothing but amazing things to say about the narration! Nicole Poole continues to do a fantastic job. The number of different accents and tones (both male and female) she can realistically do is mind-blowing!
If I had bothered to read a few reviews of this book before I got it things would have ended better. So for that, I will admit fault. This book features a love triangle, which I haven't been a fan of for a few years now. It didn't help how small the universe the author created felt. The lore and the wolves self-inflicted seclusion from the rest of the town was a bit weird.
Mina wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. There were times when I started questioning her common sense and self-preservation instincts.
Another thing I found weird was her overprotectiveness towards her sister. It would come up out of nowhere with no justification for it and would never lead to anything. Her inner monologue was, at times, too descriptive and detailed for me.
Alec was an average guy with an average life. I didn't feel the chemistry between him and Mina. The worst part of him were his friends, which seemed to only be around to make him look better in comparison. They felt very stereotypical and one dimensional.
Eli was mysterious and warmed up to me throughout the story. Though, I didn't understand why he insisted on giving alcohol to a minor. I also didn't see what he saw in Mina. There was never any real spark between them unless they coincidentally happened to be alone somewhere.
The ending felt off. There were a few major problems presented in this novel, but the only one that got solved was the obvious one that you can deduce from the cover and length of this still growing series alone. Overall, this felt like half a story and I'm not sure I'm invested enough to want to read the next book in this series.
The Audio Book:
The audio narration isn't great. It's slow and full of longer than needed pauses. This is the second book I read sped up because I couldn't stand the pauses. The narrator has maybe 2 voice intonations for women and 2 for men. There's not much distinction when there are more than 3 people having a conversation. Overall, the narrator didn't help with my apprehension of the story after I figured out that it featured a love triangle.
This series was such a big part of my childhood and nostalgia does amazing things for it! The story is entertaining and passed the time quite well. I still love Jamie Kelly's commentary about all the situations she and her friends get into. I still continue to see where my type of humor started getting developed way back when with this series. I also loved the PSA of donating hair to organizations that make wigs for people to help them feel better about what they're going through at that moment!
"I'm really good at ignoring unpleasant feelings if it is really inconvenient to feel them."
This is the first poetry book I've ever picked up by choice and it's about what I expected it to be. This book doesn't take itself seriously in most of the poems. It features a dark and sarcastic type of humor (in a few poems) and has a few gems in that department.
I enjoy the dramatic and overly expressive stories Gabbie posts on her youtube channel, so I wasn't expecting this novel to be a masterpiece of timeless poems to be appreciated and treasured throughout history. This was a fun, fluffy and at times dark book, all the while bringing attention to bullying and a few other issues throughout the novel.
Favorite Poetry Lines:
"My art form is heartache peppered with delusions of grandeur"
"I'm the cockiest most insecure confident self-conscience self-assured anxious proud self-loathing person I know."