Book Review: American Queen

review-cover-american queenTitle: American Queen [New Camelot Trilogy 1]

Author: Sierra Simone

Genre: Romance, Erotica, BDSM, Ménage, Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

It starts with a stolen kiss under an English sky, and it ends with a walk down the aisle. It starts with the President sending his best friend to woo me on his behalf, and it ends with my heart split in two. It starts with buried secrets and dangerous desires…and ends with the three of us bound together with a hateful love sharper than any barbed wire.

My name is Greer Galloway, and I serve at the pleasure of the President of the United States.

This is the story of an American Queen.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I need to learn to read book descriptions—I rarely do. It’s just one of those things as a book reviewer and avid reader, that I just don’t bother. So obviously, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I picked up American Queen by Sierra Simone. All that being said, I still enjoyed this book.

BDSM isn’t my thing. I’m not a huge fan of Ménage’s, and I rather read Romance than Erotica, so when I say that I enjoyed the book, take that as high praise. This book was exceedingly well written. The narrative voice was clear and easy to read. I liked the characters, the world building was rich without being overbearing, and even if the complicated relationship between Maxen, Embry, and Greer wasn’t my cup of tea—I could still appreciate it. I was drawn into the story by the subtly crafted narrative, and I wholeheartedly believed in their love for one another. I rarely run into books so well written that I forget that their subject matter isn’t something I enjoy.

Whether you’re looking for an erotica, something with BDSM, Ménage’s, or you simply want a well-crafted book, I’d recommend you pick this one up. It’s not going to be for everyone—but it’s still a good book. You might be surprised.

Book Review: City of Ghosts

reivew-cover-city of ghostsTitle: City of Ghosts [GhostWriters 1]

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Genre: Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Mystery

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

On the day the villagers were forced to flee Hensu, not everyone got out alive.

Jackson Stone is touring the abandoned Chinese city when he slips away from the group to spend the night, determined to publish an account of his ghostly experiences there.

Then he meets Yuèhai, a strange, soft-spoken woman who can tell him the city’s secrets—secrets the Chinese government would kill to keep hidden.

As Jackson uncovers the truth about Yuèhai and the ghost city, he’s drawn into a web of conspiracy, betrayal, and murder. He must risk everything to save himself and bring honor back to Yuèhai and her family.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did, but wow, did I. City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff succeeded at not only being a creepy ghost story, but a fascinating assay into another culture, and an action-packed adventure all in one. I’m a huge horror fan, but books don’t usually creep me out—and this one did. I was up till 2 am reading, and I couldn’t stop myself from checking out the dark corners of my house—just to be sure. My attempts to pronounce Yuehai out loud to myself during my read-through made me feel as if I were conjuring her ghost into my house.

This story was well written. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting mistakes. The narrative voice was both detailed and easy-to-follow without being overbearing or poetic. The characters were interesting and although not terribly complex, I couldn’t help but like them—even the ones I grew to hate. (I’m looking at you, Meghan & Harold).

Overall—this was just a fantastic book. I read through it in a matter of hours, and I almost hated to stop and sleep (but I was only halfway in at that point, so I figured I better!) It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a ghost story that I’ve liked as much as I did this one. There were elements of the Chinese culture, a ghost story, action/adventure, human rights, and even a tad bit of a romance within its pages. If you’re looking for a good all around read, I’d highly recommend picking up this book. I’m excited to read on into the rest of the series!

Book Review: Slightly Stalky

review-cover-slightly stalkyTitle: Slightly Stalky [Slightly Stalky 1]

Author: Amy Vansant

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Emily never expected to find love in a dart bar, but the moment she spots tall, sexy Sebastian, she’s determined to catch his eye.

Ex-girlfriends, perpetually shirtless rich boys, frantic best-friends and a mysterious orange handbag converge to stop her.

No one said stalking was easy, but if romance was left to the boys, the human race would die out while they logged fantasy football points and punched each other in the balls.

Everyone knows that.

Emily’s not stalking Sebastian…she’s saving the world.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Yes, I read through the entirety of this book. No, I don’t know why—curiosity I guess? There were so many faults with this book that it’s hard to single out a few to expound upon. The main character is a desperate woman who becomes obsessed with a cute guy in a bar and basically changes herself to be what she thinks he’ll be interested in—her hobbies, her hangouts, etc.—just to place herself in his path in the hopes that he’ll notice her. It’s sad and childish and speaks to a very shallow niche of society.

The problems don’t end there though. The main male lead spends the majority of the book being weak-willed and wishy-washy. He’s already dating someone when he meets the main female lead and continues to live with his shallow ex-girlfriend all the while striking up a relationship with the new girl. It’s cringy and doesn’t speak highly of his character.

There’s a lot of manipulation going on in this book from a lot of the characters, and honestly, even though this was marketed as a romantic comedy… I didn’t see the comedy in it or much of the romance. The book left me feeling skeazy. I don’t recommend this book unless you’re into stories about broken people and their imperfect relationships.

Book Review: Red Queen

review-cover-red queenTitle: Red Queen [Red Queen 1]

Author: Victoria Aveyard

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. It wasn’t what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised anyway. As far as the technical aspects of the book go, the writing was flawless. I didn’t run into any obvious typos, grammatical errors, or formatting issues. The narrative was clean and easy to read, and I enjoyed the narrative voice.

This was a YA book, so yes, the storyline and the characters were simple, even familiar, but I’m not going to hold that against it. Was it a ground-breaking novel? No. Probably not… but it was interesting. I liked the characters, I liked the world building – what there was of it – and I enjoyed the romance. Had this been a book geared towards adults, yes, I would have held it to a higher standard. There is no poetry to the narrative voice, the characters aren’t complex, and there’s no simmer to the romance… but this isn’t an adult book. This is a book meant for teens, and for them, I think this hits a lot of the points it needed to. there’s a cute romance, an element of danger, superpowers, fancy dresses, and a very fairytale vibe to the plotline.

Overall, I think this is a good book for the YA crowd, particularly those that are actually teens – but if you’re an adult reading into the YA genre, this may be a bit below your level. Either way, I found it to be a good book, a fast-paced read, and I’m glad to have picked it up.

Book Review: Paper Princess

review-cover-paper princessTitle: Paper Princess [The Royals 1]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Paper Princess by Erin Watt and its entire series was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The writing was clean and easy to read, there weren’t a lot of typos or technical issues with the writing. I was sucked in by the easy narrative voice of Ella, who wasn’t just some simpering teen female lead… but there was so much wrong with the plot and how the romance was put together that I couldn’t help but be uncomfortable as I was reading it.

Reed and Ella’s other male benefactors were, for the most part, terrible people. They were privileged and narcissistic, and they often treated Ella like she was sub-human. Reed, the main male lead, was vindictive and cold, often cruel to Ella… and yet I was asked to believe that there was some hope that the two of them would fall madly in love. Their relationship was unhealthy from the start.

The book ended on an ugly note, and it pretty much summed up how I felt about the book in general. I didn’t like the characters, I was uncomfortable with the interactions between them, but at the same time, I couldn’t stop reading. It was a bit like watching a car crash filmed with exceptional slow-motion cinematography—pretty to watch, but you still can’t help but cringe.

Book Review: My Royal Temptation

review-cover-my royal temptationTitle: My Royal Temptation [Arrogant Heirs 1]

Author: Riley Pine, Jessa Rose

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

I will never love.

I will not marry.

Happily ever after doesn’t exist in my kingdom.

I’m Prince Nikolai, Duke of Westcraven and heir apparent to the Edenvale throne. I’ve got rock hard abs, live hard, and f**k even harder. Life is a nonstop party until my father and evil stepmother hire Kate Winter, a prim and proper matchmaker, and give me an ultimatum: marry by my twenty-ninth birthday or they’ll hand my crown to the banished brother who once a betrayed me.

There’s no way in hell I’ll give my heart to any woman.

Because you cannot give what is broken beyond repair.

But what hides beneath Kate Winter’s ice queen exterior is a fiery redhead who likes it hot. She may have a sharp tongue in the throne room, but oh the things that tongue can do when no one else is looking.

That’s why I didn’t see it coming–Kate Winter enticing me, body and soul. Now she’s the only woman I want–and according to Royal Law, the woman forbidden to be my queen.

But I’m sure as hell no Prince Charming, and I’ve never been good at following rules.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book genuinely made me angry. I don’t often say that about a book, but in this case, it’s true. The story started off with an arrogant prince that was condescending, narcissistic, and womanizing. The main female lead was naïve and innocent, and if anything, the setup for their relationship was the best part of this book. It should have been an easy win for the author…

But the story was completely ruined by the execution. It was bad. Really bad. Everything about this book was unbelievable to the point of being absurd. Every time I thought “this can’t possibly get worse”, it did.

At one point there was a cut scene where the evil stepmother queen is declaring treason against the prince while standing outside a hospital room where the female lead’s grandmother is dying (having somehow known that the prince and the main female lead were there… even though the female lead had been “dead” just 15 minutes before in a dungeon—AND they’d snuck out unseen with the help of the mysterious unnamed bodyguard.) The press is there (who even had time to call them, let alone how did they get there so quickly?), and I just sat back and said… “what is this bull****?” It was nonsense. Don’t even get me started on the magical-lake-trial-of-true-love or how a kiss somehow bypassed poison… or the total Romeo & Juliet knock-off vibes of the dungeon scene.

*Takes deep, calming breaths*. In all seriousness, this book read like an erotica novel penned by a first-time author dabbling in fan-fiction living out their middle-school fantasies. I expected so much more from a book by this publisher. I hated this book, possibly more than any other romance book I’ve ever read. I feel like my time was wasted and I am incredibly disappointed. The book was poorly constructed, and frankly, I feel a bit insulted that the publisher tried to pass this off as a quality romantic read. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Book Review: Barely Breathing

review-cover-barely breathingTitle: Barely Breathing [Shattered Souls Trilogy 1]

Author: Katerina Bray

Genre: Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Take a Deep Breath
You can and will get through this.

Rock Bottom.

Is where I find myself, yet again.

I remember all the times I’ve stood alone, begging for help, praying for an answer, no longer knowing who I’d become and barely being able to breathe.

I. Will. Not. Let. Those. Memories. Stop. Me.

Knock me down, break my soul, and cause me pain, but I have always found the strength to pick myself up and stand tall again.

People assume I’m too fragile and incapable of functioning.

But surviving is part of my daily routine.

I, Ruby Bennett will start over as many times as it takes.

My past will not overpower my present.

It’s said the third time’s a charm.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I sadly only made it 3% into this book. I just couldn’t push myself to read any further. The narrative felt contrived; it was trying too hard to be poetic and mysterious and didn’t come across as genuine. The opening sequence was slow with lots of explanation thrown in, and it felt like it took forever to get through. As a Texan, I was irritated by the stereotypical trope of the realtor with the thick Texan drawl (btw, most people in Texas don’t have that accent). For all the words used, nothing seemed to be happening of any importance to the story itself in the first chapter, and when I got to the second chapter with Maeson’s gratuitous swearing, I was just done.

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t have the patience to sit through another chapter. I wasn’t drawn into the story. I wasn’t interested in where it was going or what was going to happen. I wasn’t sucked in by the characters. There may be someone out there that enjoys this book for more than I did, but it just wasn’t for me.