Book Review: Blood Circus

blood circusTitle: Blood Circus

Author: Camila Victoire

Genre: Post-Apocalytpic, Dystopian, Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

At the end of the twenty-first century, climate change and famine almost ended humanity—until the discovery of the Klujns, a barbaric, humanoid species with strangely colored eyes and even stranger abilities. Their crystal claws and bones fertilize barren soil, and their tender meat is a super-protein. Klujns are both humans’ saviors and natural-born enemies, meant to be hunted and used.

When sixteen-year-old Ava finds herself on the wrong side of a military fence erected to protect the North American Territory, she’s captured by Klujns and made to participate in the Blood Race, a macabre tradition where young human hostages compete to the death for Klujn amusement. At first, she is terrified, but as Ava observes Klujn behavior that contradicts what she’s learned, she begins to wonder: Are Klujns as different as she was led to believe? And, as she fights for her life, does it matter?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was fantastic – the worldbuilding was painted with the vibrant brushstrokes of nature and the grotesque spill of human greed. It is based around a split world far into the future when humanity has completely wrecked the planet, and now commits abhorrent acts of cruelty, greed, and cannibalism, while the last few vestiges of nature try to reclaim what once was despite the war against them.

Ava made a dynamic and interesting character. She’s a bit of a loner, a bit out of place in her world… but brave, determined, kind, and filled with curiosity. As a character she went on quite the journey of discovery, learning not only about her world and the lies holding it together, but ultimately, who she is once everything is stripped away. I adored her.

The story itself was well-written – it flowed well, and it wasn’t bogged down by typos or stupid character choices. It wasn’t always a pretty story… there was plenty of death, gore, and cruelty, but it wasn’t all dark either.

I don’t want to ruin this story for anyone, so I’ll leave it at this: if you like dystopian, post-apocalyptic stories filled with challenges, strong characters, and hard choices, this is the book for you.

There’s just a bit of magic, a wonder of the natural world, and a lot of terrible people. I’m excited to read on further in this series.

Free Fiction Friday #285

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Science Fiction and Fantasy!

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Book Review: Taken By Twilight

taken by twilightTitle: Taken By Twilight [Mating Games 1]

Author: Tricia Barr

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Ten abducted humans. Seven fae regents in need of mates. Welcome to the Mating Games.

Evee Aldren wakes strapped on a plane with nine strangers, and her panic heightens when she sees that one of them is the man who’s haunted her fantasies since she met him two weeks before.

Justin Jackson thought he’d never hear from Evee again after she ended their flirtatious texting. So when he’s forced off a plane full of hostages and sees she’s among them, he’s gripped with only one goal: Get her the hell out of there.

As inhuman beauties herd them like cattle, Evee and Justin learn they’re being forced into an ancient game of cat and mouse, where unwed fae regents hunt for their future mates. They ban together to escape, all the while fighting the intense passion burning between them.

Will they win their freedom, or will they lose so much more than each other to the gorgeous and wicked creatures who chase them? Let the Mating Games begin.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I could not get through this book. I tried. I got to 60% in, but it was a push. This book was a mess.
 
There were numerous typos throughout, and new character POVs are introduced more than halfway through the story. The plot was a weird mix of a pretty basic trope: The character gets introduced into a supernatural world and must compete in a grand game to become royalty…. But instead of the usual storyline where the main character ends up falling in love with a supernatural lover, the two main characters are exes who are just getting out of their own respective failed marriages and are both kidnapped and expected to compete to marry other people. It sounds more interesting than it is because it didn’t work well. It felt like the book should have been a contemporary romance and the fantasy aspect of it was added last minute in an attempt to make it more interesting. The problem is… fantasy readers want to read fantasy because of the fantasy, not because of the contemporary romance characters that were dumped into the middle of it.
 
Evee was a broken character – abused and beaten down, and not willing to start a relationship with anyone until her marriage is officially over. She is drawn to being submissive to the point of consensual non-consent (I’m choosing my words carefully here) and is madly in love with Justin.
 
Justin is a hot mess. At first, he seemed like a reasonable character – a loving dad who was cheated on by his ex-wife… but the farther into the story I got, the less I liked him. All this guy thinks about is sex. About the time the author used his POV to describe a princess’s breasts as “begging to be motor-boated” is about the time I decided I hated his POV. He was so incredibly crass. The most positive thing about Justin as a character was the extraordinary size of his male anatomy.
 
Overall, I didn’t like the book. I kept trying to push myself into reading more, but it felt like the book was pasted together sloppily in some sort of fever dream.

Book Review: The Buried and the Bound

the buried and the boundTitle: The Buried and The Bound [The Buried and The Bound 1]

Author: Rochelle Hassan

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBTQ+

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

As the only hedgewitch in Blackthorn, Massachusetts—an uncommonly magical place—Aziza El-Amin has bargained with wood nymphs, rescued palm-sized fairies from house cats, banished flesh-eating shadows from the local park. But when a dark entity awakens in the forest outside of town, eroding the invisible boundary between the human world and fairyland, run-of-the-mill fae mischief turns into outright aggression, and the danger—to herself and others—becomes too great for her to handle alone.

Leo Merritt is no stranger to magical catastrophes. On his sixteenth birthday, a dormant curse kicked in and ripped away all his memories of his true love. A miserable year has passed since then. He’s road-tripped up and down the East Coast looking for a way to get his memories back and hit one dead end after another. He doesn’t even know his true love’s name, but he feels the absence in his life, and it’s haunting.

Desperate for answers, he makes a pact with Aziza: he’ll provide much-needed backup on her nightly patrols, and in exchange, she’ll help him break the curse.

When the creature in the woods sets its sights on them, their survival depends on the aid of a mysterious young necromancer they’re not certain they can trust. But they’ll have to work together to eradicate the new threat and take back their hometown… even if it forces them to uncover deeply buried secrets and make devastating sacrifices.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was not for me. Technically speaking, the book was decently written. There were some typos in my copy, but it was an ARC, and therefore will probably be cleaned up before release.
 
I liked Aziza, the hedgewitch as one of the three main characters – she was kind, but also incredibly stubborn and brave. Leo ran a close second for his tenacity alone…. But Tristan was AWFUL. He was whiney and weak-willed, and in general, the story could have stayed out of his narrative POV and worked just fine.
 
The adults in this book… were frustrating. All of them pretty much ignored the concerns and feelings of the teens, and some of them outright lied to their teens regularly.  It constantly felt like the narrative and the characters just weren’t getting anywhere.
 
By halfway through the book, I was bored. I pushed myself to try and read more, but in the end, I set the book aside. I wasn’t engaged, and I didn’t feel drawn into the story as I should have been. The characters were okay for the most part, but I didn’t feel particularly attached to any of them.

Free Fiction Friday #284

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Young Adult Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense!

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Book Review: The Husband Checklist

the husband checklistTitle: The Husband Checklist

Author: Jasmin Miller

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

There are moments when you think life is going one way and a major curveball sends you the complete opposite direction. That’s me, standing in the rain, wondering how things went so terribly wrong.

What do I need? To hide at my brother’s house to lick my wounds.

What do I get? My brother’s roommate, sexy-as-sin best friend, Carter Kennedy.

The cute, adventurous boy who was my teenage crush. The inspiring, irresistible man who will never be mine.

But then things get complicated with fun-filled days and pleasure-filled nights.

If Carter wasn’t the most commitment-phobic person I know, I could consider the cliché of dating my brother’s best friend. But he will never fit the husband checklist I made to find the man who will be my world, and I’m not willing to compromise on that.

At least, that’s the plan.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

As far as the usual contemporary romance goes, this one was okay. It started well – I loved Carter, particularly as a character, and the romance had a lot of good sexual tension to drive the beginning of the story forward.
 
But it wasn’t perfect. As the story wore on, the character’s decisions and actions started to make less sense, and things got more dramatic. I rolled my eyes when the whole hospital sequence came along – not only is that not how hospitals work, but that’s not how pregnancy works. The events weren’t accurate at all, and it was harder to suspend my disbelief and continue to enjoy the story.
 
Overall, the story was decent, and if you need a quick romantic read to waste an afternoon, then this one is as good as many others, but the story takes a hit in the latter half, and it didn’t end up being a great book.

Book Review: Ghost Magnet

ghost magnetTitle: Ghost Magnet

Author: Holly M. Campbell

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

College freshman Mary White is the newest member of the ghost hunting group, the Spirit Stalkers. But unlike the other hunters, Mary doesn’t need hi-tech equipment to communicate with the dead. She can see ghosts on her own.

When Mary is assigned to spend a few days in a creepy haunted house, only one other person is brave enough to volunteer with her: the annoyingly sexy Mark Ingalls.

But the ghosts in the house are guarding a dangerous mystery, one that eerily mirrors Mary’s past–a dark secret she’s tried to bury. As she and Mark dig for answers, Mary must confront figurative and literal demons. She must also learn to control her gift before the ghosts gain too much power.

Because some people–even dead ones–will do anything to keep a secret.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

It took me a while to decide how I was going to rate this book. The writing was clear and easy to read, it didn’t have many obvious typos. The plot and general characterization of the characters were interesting. 
 
But it wasn’t perfect.
 
The interaction between the characters was a little overly dramatic at times, and none of the characters aside from Mary had much depth. Honestly, I didn’t even like most of the characters.
 
The romance between Mary and Mark was rather shallow. There was some initial physical attraction, but it didn’t get much farther than that.
 
Mary herself was a bit of a Mary Sue – perfectly imperfect. She was a great singer, a great actress, she could see ghosts and to some extent, had these magical superpowers, and was pretty but unaware of it – but she was also terribly damaged.
 
Did I like the book? Yes. It was engaging. It was decently written, and I loved the plot and the various ghosts. Would it be at the top of my list to recommend to other readers? No. It was fun, but it wasn’t a particularly great read. If you just want a fun, short ghost read, then this would be a great book to pick up, but it isn’t going to be one you need as a hard copy on your shelf.

Free Fiction Friday #283

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday! For those of you who are new to this blog, or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays—every Friday I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre, and on sale for less than $5.

I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars, have over 40+ reviews, and are 100 pages minimum—so you can have a hand-picked list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things, like laundry). I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: New!

Note: These are books released within the past 90 days – because of this, they may not all have 40+ reviews yet. Use this as a chance to find some new authors/books!

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Book Review: Nox

noxTitle: Nox [The Dark Between 2]

Author: Rae Else

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

The clans, covens, and courts will be unified once the race that was cloven is too.

Jess escaped the Triodia Penitentiary and slew her uncle, Lorenzo, the Remus Alpha. Although she is free, she isn’t at peace. The death omen, the Sidhe, who called to her in the Between haunts her.

The Enodia Coven, who Jess shelters with, would have her claim the Rem Alphahood. By familial and slayer rights, it belongs to her. Why then does she feel an affinity with the rival Rom Clan?

As Jess struggles to work out where she belongs in the para world, the mysteries surrounding her continue to grow. Will the truth, the para officer Matteo holds, set her free? Or is the vamp, Rune, the key to finding where she fits in?

Contrarily, what if the truth doesn’t set Jess free? What if, instead, it steals her future?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to be honest. I very nearly DNF’d this book a few times. I’m being very generous by giving it 3 stars. The book itself is written relatively well. The narrative is easy to read, there are few typos, and it has even pacing. I like the characters, and I love the world-building and the setting. The plot is interesting.
 
The problem is… I was bored. This book doesn’t stand on its own – so if you haven’t read the first book in the series, you won’t understand this book at all. I had read the first book, and I still had trouble getting into it. The story was incredibly slow-placed and filled with lots of the main character learning back lore. It’s a lot to soak in. There wasn’t much tension or action, and the romance was little more than crumbs for the first half of the story. I got tired of waiting for something to happen. It was disappointing after having loved the first book so much.
 
Re going to read this book, I recommend you read it directly after the first one. Don’t wait a week. Don’t read something in between. Otherwise, this isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for you.

Book Review: Of Moons and Monsters

of moons and monstersTitle: Of Moons and Monsters [Of Moons and Monsters 1]

Author: Willow Hadley

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Hell hath no fury like a man scorned.

Isla learns that lesson all too well when she agrees to go to a party with her half-demon best friend, Alistair, to help him make his vampire ex-boyfriend jealous. Their plan backfires when Alistair’s ex turns out to be more psycho than Isla realized, and she finds herself being kidnapped and sold on the supernatural black market.

While Isla’s only human, she’s spent her life surrounded by supernatural creatures. Her situation is precarious, but she’s pretty sure she knows what to expect. At least, until her buyer ends up transporting her to a completely different realm called Briya where nobody speaks her language.

Isla is gifted to the four Guardians of Briya—Reule, Audun, Maalik, and Caelan. With the dreaded Beast’s Moon looming right around the corner, the Guardians are expected to choose a mate. They’re furious with their king for his scheming, and they’re determined to help Isla find her way back home to Alistair. But the timing of Isla’s arrival complicates everything, and they find themselves drawn to her no matter how hard they try to fight their instincts.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I did not expect this book to be as good as it was. The writing was fantastic – easy to read, engaging, and free of noticeable typos. The world-building was interesting and different from what I’ve seen in similar books in the past – but where this book really shines is the way the author managed to portray the relationships between Isla and her mates.
 
It was fascinating to see how they navigated a complicated situation without being able to talk to one another verbally – and the miscommunication that sometimes leads to. Their romance was filled with sultry spice, but also incredibly sweet and heartwarming. The author did a great job of balancing the relationship between all of them and making it seem natural despite the extraordinary circumstances.
 
This book was so fun, so sweet, and so sexy, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves paranormal romances. This one is definitely worth reading.