Book Review: Her Fated Alpha

her fated alphaTitle: Her Fated Alpha [Chelsea’s Alpha 1]

Author: Robert Warden

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

I’m a vampire huntress. Yet I get imprinted on by a pack alpha.

I come from a long, extensive family of vampire hunters. I moved to Harrisonburg, Virginia to take care of my little sister, also a vampire huntress. But trouble calls me on speed dial and I discover a string of murders in town at the hands of a vampire.

This isn’t a normal vamp, though. He’s playing with dark magic, something I’ve never dealt with before. On top of that, there’s a wolf pack in town and their alpha, Tyler Perkins, has fallen head over heels for me. To make matters worse, my sister dies at the hands of the vampire.

Could my life get anymore effed up?

But in the pursuit of justice, I start warming up to Tyler and things get steamy between us. He helps me take on the vampire and his nest, who become a threat to his pack. I start to wonder if Tyler and I were destined to meet. As the fire and passion burn brighter than ever between us, I get my answer: he’s my fated alpha.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book was awful. Hands down. I picked it up free, and I still feel like I wasted my money. I will hand it to the cover artist – the cover is gorgeous, which is what gave me some hope going into the story that it was going to be decent… but I was gravely mistaken. I only got about two chapters into the book before I DNF’d it.

So what went wrong? The writing. It’s stilted and choppy – lacking any sense of flow or pacing. The wording of the most basic sentences is weak and strangely put together, as if the author didn’t speak English as a first language. The characters were dramatic in the most annoying ways, and the narrative voice kept pointing out small details that didn’t matter to the story. At all.

The main male lead’s 1st chapter (chapter 2) was so insufferably weak and whiney that I threw the book down and gave up. Maybe the plot was interesting, maybe the characters had some redeeming qualities. Maybe the book gets better… I don’t know. I could not push past how terrible the writing was from a technical standpoint. Overall, this book gets a pass from me. I can’t recommend it to readers, and honestly… if you can get through the first few chapters, I tip my hat to you. That takes some serious willpower.

Book Review: Twin Crowns

twin crownsTitle: Twin Crowns [Twin Crowns 1]

Author: Catherine Doyle & Katherine Webber

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Wren Greenrock has always known that one day she would steal her sister’s place in the palace. Trained from birth to return to the place of her parents’ murder and usurp the only survivor, she will do anything to rise to power and protect the community of witches she loves. Or she would, if only a certain palace guard wasn’t quite so distractingly attractive, and if her reckless magic didn’t have a habit of causing trouble…

Princess Rose Valhart knows that with power comes responsibility. Marriage into a brutal kingdom awaits, and she will not let a small matter like waking up in the middle of the desert in the company of an extremely impertinent (and handsome) kidnapper get in the way of her royal duty. But life outside the palace walls is wilder and more beautiful than she ever imagined, and the witches she has long feared might turn out to be the family she never knew she was missing.

Two sisters separated at birth and raised into entirely different worlds are about to get to know each other’s lives a whole lot better. But as coronation day looms closer and they each strive to claim their birthright, the sinister Kingsbreath, Willem Rathborne, becomes increasingly determined that neither will succeed. Who will ultimately rise to power and wear the crown?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

My favorite part of this book, was the cover – and oh my lord is that cover gorgeous – but that’s about the nicest thing I can say. I didn’t finish this book. By 10% into the story, I was bored out of my mind. The narrative was written much like a Disney film – it was pretty and dramatic and filled with bubbly characters, but there was no grit to it. No reality.
 
The characters were flat and spoke as if they belonged in a cartoon. The princess had people squish bugs for her and threw tantrums. She was painfully naïve and unlikeable in the worst way. Wren was, as you’d expect, the exact opposite. She was calloused and rough-and-tumble… but still squealed in delight over wearing a dress. It was disappointing to find them so cookie-cutter in how they were characterized.
 
The whole story lacked depth. The writing itself wasn’t bad from a technical standpoint – it was clear, easy to read, and the pacing was even – but I grew so bored waiting for the plot to reveal itself past the trope of “twins switch places”. I get it. It’s funny, there are hijinks – I am an identical twin, and I get it. I did the switch thing too… but it’s been so overdone. This is truly a princess and the pauper situation. I just, expected more, and I’m a little sad that the whole thing turned out to be so shallow.
 
If you like Disney films, and you’re looking for a juvenile-geared read about princesses and tropes, then you’ll probably like this story a lot. Some people like that, and it’s okay… but if you’re looking for a YA story full of detail and depth and fantastic characterization… you aren’t going to find that here. This is one I’d pass on.

Book Review: Bedeviled

bedeviledTitle: Bedeviled [Bride of Hades 1]

Author: Victoria Evers

Genre: Urban, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

My name is Scarlett Mason, and on the surface, I’m just your average college student. What you don’t know: demons, Fae, Hellhounds, vampiric sorcerers, and a whole slew of creatures from the Underworld are very much real, and they walk among us. How do I know this? I’ve been training since I was ten years old to become a hunter in the hopes I’ll be able to find the monster responsible for killing my parents. But you know what they say about even the best laid plans…

After a gorgeous psycho kidnaps me, I find myself trapped on a hidden island with him and his posse of Underworld assassins. I’ve spent my entire adolescence learning how to slay their very kind…so why are these men claiming they can help me? As it turns out, we have a mutual enemy: Hell’s very own Crown Prince of Greed. Even better, he’s looking for a bride, and he hopes to find her at the Underworld’s most illustrious masquerade ball. The thought of going should be terrifying, but it offers so much more than the world’s worst love match.
Revenge.

This Cinderella may be going to one Hell of a ball, but I’m not interested in dancing with Prince Charming. Nope, my plans involve a dagger…and the left side of his chest. Hey, it’s my party. I can kill if I want to.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I was not expecting how spectacularly good this book was. I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the blurb. I saw “bride of hades” series and a pretty cover, and figured it’d be yet another Persephone + Hades retelling. Which is awesome, but certainly not what I got.

This book was so wonderfully complex – filled with plots upon subplots, multiple love interests, twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and fantastic characters. The book was well-written, fast-paced, and filled with some pretty sultry men. I was blown away. I didn’t run into obvious typos or plot holes, every character was interesting and had their own, often hidden, motives. It was ridiculously fun to read, and I loved every minute of it.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy romances. I’m 100% going to be picking up further books in the series.

Book Review: Kingdomless

kingdomlessTitle: Kingdomless [Evamore Series 1]

Author: Michelle Garyfalakis

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

The remnants of the United Kingdom of Garth, once ruled by the legendary Dynasty of Evamores are in the throes of conflict. Ten years ago, King Wren of the West discovered Raelle washed up on the shores of the Balour Sea, with no memory of the first nine years of her life. She was brought back to the castle and dutifully cared for and cherished by the king and his three older sons. On her nineteenth birthday, the Western Kingdom’s adoptive princess is secretly sent away by her stepmother to marry King Veras as a token of peace between the kingdoms. But, the Northern King has other plans.

As Raelle’s amnesia melts away with the help of a northern storyteller, she discovers more about the Kingdom of Garth, magic, the lovetie connection of the Evamores, and her role in the grand scheme of things. She is confused, angry, and curiously comfortable in the North.

A dark shadow overcasts all the kingdoms, and a threatening influence of the fallen god Kellar seems to spread among the people, inciting disorder and violence. While the fate of the kingdoms may rest on Raelle’s shoulders, she can’t help but feel kingdomless. Betrayal is everywhere, from her own adoptive family to her newfound friends. Fearless, observant, witty and determined, she is torn between her attraction to King Veras’ good nature and the unexplained pull to the Tracker Calak. The challenge that she faces is not simple. As the old gods, laws and magic awaken, so does her own sense of self. There is a choice to be made, step into the role expected of her, or to dive into the unknown and make her own destiny.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed Kingdomless by Michelle Garyfalakis – even if it wasn’t perfect.

I’m not a huge fan of the love-triangle trope, especially when it isn’t written in such a way that both love interests are equally appealing. Unfortunately, it was easy to see throughout this book that one romance choice for the main character was going to be the wrong choice – and the lukewarm interest the main character held for one of the men just didn’t hold enough weight to make me doubt the obvious choice of the other one. I never doubted who she was going to end up with, even though the author tried her hardest to persuade me otherwise.

Messy love interests aside, the book was well-written, if a little predictable. I loved the main character, and her spitfire banter with some of the other characters. There was a lot of good comradery between the various characters that I found especially enjoyable. I wasn’t a huge fan of the evil-step-mother, because, frankly, that’s been done to death and she had zero personality outside of her role, but otherwise, I felt all of the characters were well-defined.

Don’t let these few points fool you though – the book was good. I loved the plot, the majority of the characters, and the witty dialogue. The princess could be a bit naïve, but she wasn’t a helpless damsel (well, she did faint a few times). I was enthralled with the story once I got into it, despite the few things that bothered me, and read through the entire thing in one sitting. I think if you can look past the couple of poorly done tropes, this is a solid story, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Fantasy Romances.

Book Review: Nightrender

nightrenderTitle: Nightrender [Nightrender Duology 1]

Author: Jodi Meadows

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

In the middle of nothingness is the continent of Salvation.

Reality bends easily here. Villages disappear. Forests burn forever. Pockets of inconsistent time are everywhere, their boundaries strung with yellow ribbon. And the three kingdoms of Salvation have been at war for a thousand years.

But the greatest threat is the Malice, an incursion from the demon plane slowly tearing its way through the world’s weakest seams. Seams that–once split–will lead to the total unraveling of night and day, light and dark, life and death.

Not that the human world takes much interest. Of more concern is the upcoming marriage of Rune Highcrown, Prince of Caberwill, and Johanne Fortuin, Princess of Embria–the serpent bride, a girl of famous cunning–which offers a possible end to the ancient conflict. But Rune has noticed the growing darkness, and he is determined to summon mankind’s only defense: Nightrender, the hammer of the gods, an immortal warrior more weapon than girl.

There is only one problem. The last time she was summoned, she slaughtered every royal in Salvation, and no one knows why. Will she save humanity from the Malice… or plunge it deeper into the fires of eternal war?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I had my reservations going into reading this book – but I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Not only is the cover gorgeous, but the story was filled with rich worldbuilding, unique characters, and a true battle between the forces of evil and humanity. I adored the characters (except a certain princess) – Nightrender was fascinating to follow as a character, and Rune was impossible not to love. Although I disliked Johanne, I liked the addition of the Rancor King as a sort of 4th main character. I also enjoyed the subtle romantic tension between Rune and Nightrender, even if it was never delved deeply into – I’m definitely rooting for them.

My favorite aspect of the book, however, was the world-building. The Malstop, the Rancor, and the small pockets of reality-bending Malice were fascinating. There was so much to the history of Salvation with its three kingdoms, the vast wastelands of the world outside Salvation, and its God-like Numina, that I feel like I’ve still only seen the smallest sliver of the story as a whole, but I’m eager to learn more.

Writing-wise, the book was well-written. The narrative flowed easily and pulled me in from the very beginning. The characters were unique, and though not terribly complex, were well characterized. The dialogue was effortless, and I didn’t run into any major typos.

The only real complaint I have is about the ending – if you hate cliffhangers, you aren’t going to like this one. It wasn’t just an open-ended “what’s next”, it was a full stop halfway through the story. I know this is a duology, but it felt very unfinished, and I was unprepared for the abrupt end. That aside, I loved the book as a whole, and if you like YA Fantasy stories, this is one I’d recommend.

Book Review: Only A Monster

cover-only a monsterTitle: Only A Monster [Monsters 1]

Author: Vanessa Len

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Time-Travel

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored this book. Time travel is one of my favorite genres, and this story was a fascinating mix of time travel, urban fantasy, and adventure story.

Both the characters and the narrative were incredibly well written. I loved Joan as the main character, and the tension between her and Nick was glorious. Though I’ll admit, I wish the romance subplot had gone a little further. I was kind of cheering for Aaron to get a little closer to Joan – like… Come on. He totally loved her. I feel like we are missing a huge chunk of Aaron’s story, and well, Joan and Nick’s as well. I desperately need there to be a 2nd book.

Writing-wise, this book was so well put-together. It was well-paced, flowed well, and I was sucked into it from the very beginning of the story. I didn’t run across any major typos, even in the ARC. The world-building was complex and had a very magical feel to it in how alien the monster world was from the human world.

Honestly, I’m feeling withdrawals from the ending of this book. This story was fantastic; complex, vivid, and enthralling. I would recommend it to anyone who likes time-travel stories, urban fantasy, or Young Adult Romance.

Book Review: Echoes and Empires

cover-echoes and empiresTitle: Echoes and Empires [Echoes and Empires 1]

Author: Morgan Rhodes

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 3 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Josslyn Drake knows only three things about magic: it’s rare, illegal, and always deadly. So when she’s caught up in a robbery gone wrong at the Queen’s Gala and infected by a dangerous piece of magic—one that allows her to step into the memories of an infamously evil warlock—she finds herself living her worst nightmare. Joss needs the magic removed before it corrupts her soul and kills her. But in Ironport, the cost of doing magic is death, and seeking help might mean scheduling her own execution. There’s nobody she can trust.

Nobody, that is, except wanted criminal Jericho Nox, who offers her a deal: his help extracting the magic in exchange for the magic itself. And though she’s not thrilled to be working with a thief, especially one as infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) as Jericho, Joss is desperate enough to accept.

But Jericho is nothing like Joss expects. The closer she grows with Jericho and the more she sees of the world outside her pampered life in the city, the more Joss begins to question the beliefs she’s always taken for granted—beliefs about right and wrong, about power and magic, and even about herself.

In an empire built on lies, the truth may be her greatest weapon.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I have mixed feelings about this book. Let’s start with a caveat: I read an advanced reader’s copy of this book, and there were half a dozen errors – nothing too terrible, and likely cleaned up for the final copy, so we’ll disregard those. Overall, the writing was clean and easy to read, but the pacing was a bit slow in the first half of the book. The romance didn’t kick in until late in the story, and its appearance was abrupt. The romance subplot felt more like an afterthought, which was unfortunate.

The overall plot of the story was interesting, probably the best part of the book, honestly. Unfortunately, the worldbuilding was a bit unclear. There was a strange mix of modern technology, magic, and monarchy that made it hard to pinpoint the era of the story, but it had a very 1920’s feel at times with all the glitz and glamour, socialites, and nobility.

The most disappointing part of the story, however, was the characters. There was very little character growth for any of the characters that what little there was, didn’t appear until the very end of the book. Joss was insufferable as a main character. She was an entitled, bigoted socialite with few friends and too much snobbery. I greatly disliked her, and she made it hard to like the story. I very nearly DNF’d the book just because of her.

Luckily, the book did get better as time wore on, and though I’d guessed most of the major plot points before they happened, there were a few surprises to keep me going.

In the end, the book was okay. Without Joss, it probably would have been better. I will warn readers: the ending is abrupt and felt very unfinished. If cliffhangers bother you, you are going to be upset. If you like magical realism, fantasy, and socialites, you might like this book. Emphasis on the socialites.

Book Review: The Last She

cover-the last sheTitle: The Last She [The Last She 1]

Author: H.J. Nelson

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Young Adult, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

As the only female to survive the devastating virus, Ara hasn’t seen another human in months―not since her father disappeared. The plague has swept away humanity, and Ara’s world is desolate, haunted by the ghosts of her former life. Her mother. Her sister.

Kaden and his crew live by a code: stay alert, stay alive. When they catch Ara stealing from them, they are furious―and confused. She is the first girl they have seen in three years. And while Kaden knows taking her captive is wrong, he tells himself he’s doing it to protect her.
But with Ara determined to follow through on her father’s mission―Go back to the beginning. End the plague―Kaden becomes mesmerized by Ara’s will and beauty. He knows he will do anything to help her, even if it tears their worlds apart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored this book – it was well-written, fast-paced, and the world-building was both familiar, and eerie. The author did a good job of showing Ara’s fear and paranoia of the post-apocalyptic world she inhabited, and the dangers it held for her as the last known female in a society of men. I thought the characters were well-defined and likable (even Gabriel sometimes… not so much Colburn), and Ara and Kaden made a fun pair.

There were a few threads of the plot throughout the story that I wish had been a little better resolved. There were a lot of hints at things that weren’t quite fleshed out, but I get it, this is the first book in a series, and we can’t see everything yet.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story, the characters, the worldbuilding, and the romance. I think most readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic stories and zombies (though that’s not quite what I’d call the creatures in this story), will probably enjoy this story as well. It is certainly one I’d recommend.

Book Review: Ice Planet Barbarians

cover-ice planet barbariansTitle: Ice Planet Barbarians [Ice Planet Barbarians 1]

Author: Ruby Dixon

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women–including me–on an ice planet.

We’re not equipped for life in this desolate winter wasteland. Since I’m the unofficial leader, I head out into the snow to look for help.

I find help all right. A big blue horned alien introduces himself in a rather . . . startling way. Vektal says that I’m his mate, his chosen female–and that the reason his chest is purring is because of my presence. He’ll help me and my people survive, but this poses a new problem.

If Vektal helps us survive, I’m not sure he’s going to want to let me go.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I liked this book more than I was expecting to. I’d heard the hype – most of it coming from people who very rarely if ever delve into reading erotic fantasy, but the bits they’d chosen to share seemed a bit over the top. So, when I picked up this book, I wasn’t expecting much. At the same time, I was a bit hyped myself, because I’ll be honest, I read a lot of erotic fiction – that’s kind of my niche – and I’m okay with absurd plotlines as long as they’re handled well.

I wasn’t disappointed. As silly as it sounds to talk about a book full of blue barbarian aliens, a ship full of crashed female 20-something’s, and a whole lot of sex… the author did a decent job of making it seem plausible. There were some silly moments, and some problematic tongue-in-cheek moments that you kind of have to swallow your dignity to enjoy, but once you get past that, the book is fairly well written. The narrative was clean, fast-paced, and easy to follow. The story, while a bit out there, was interesting and handled well. I loved the characters, and the strange alien planet they crash-landed on.

Overall, if you can set aside your literary brain and just enjoy this story for what it is – a somewhat silly, erotic romp through the wilds of an alien planet, I think most readers of romantic fiction will find this a fun ride. I’m definitely going to be picking up further books in the series.

Book Review: Luna

cover-lunaTitle: Luna [The Dark Between 1]

Author: Rae Else

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

When Romulus killed Remus, the wolf clans swore enmity to one another ever after.

Seventeen-year-old Jess has survived an upbringing in care. Diagnosed with rage blackouts, people look at her with pity and fear. The solution? Brutal workouts, Art—oh—and staying the hell away from others. Easily done in backwater Maine.

Yet one night, she wakes to find herself by a lake, her clothes covered in blood, with no memory of what happened. Soon the water is aflame and a portal opens. Transported to the Triodia Penitentiary, she discovers she’s a shifter, a type of para. She’s accused of murder and locked up.

Desperate to find a way out, she turns to her fellow inmates for help. Yet as they mount an escape, the enemies circling her increase. Will Jess survive unlocking the dangerous Heights and Depths of the para world and those within herself?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I adored this book. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I’ll admit, I avoided reading the synopsis – but a bunch of paranormal teens imprisoned by the supernatural authorities certainly wouldn’t have been on my list of guesses.

I was pulled into the story by the unique plot and the easy flow of the narrative. The characters were fascinating in how familiar, yet distinct they were from the usual paranormal tropes. It was a nice change and a fresh spin on the usual mythologies.

I loved the tentative threads of romance promised between Jess and Rune/ Mateo respectively. I got the distinct impression that whatever Jess is, it has an alluring power over those around her. I can’t wait to continue on with this series and learn more.

I would happily recommend this book as a solid read to anyone who enjoys Young Adult Paranormal Fantasy.