Book Review: Blood and Ember

review-blood and emberTitle: Blood and Ember [Stormbringer 3]

Author: Isabel Cooper

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

A century ago, the Traitor God’s fury left the world broken by violent storms and twisted monsters born of darkness and death. Now those storms are sweeping across the continent again and it will take everything the armies of man can muster to survive. As a sworn knight, Olvir is prepared to do his part–even if that means journeying deep into the magic-tainted Battlefield to face the enemy alone.

Sentinel Vivian Bathari has lost too much to allow her closest friend to make such a sacrifice alone. Besides, there are whispers that Olvir’s strange new powers are somehow connected to the Traitor God, and she’d rather be by his side should the worst occur. But as they travel deep into the heart of danger, their growing attraction burns into mutual desire, and the true depth of Olvir’s connection to the evil haunting their world is made clear. In the end, Vivian will have to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to save their world…and the man she loves.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I gave Blood and Ember 1 Star, not because it’s an awful book, but because I couldn’t finish it. I hadn’t read the previous books in the series, so I can’t attest to whether that would have made this book easier to read or not, but I suspect it might have in some sense.

So, let’s talk about what I liked. The writing was clean and well-edited. The lore and worldbuilding were rich and complex, and I think the author did a spectacular job of creating a vivid atmosphere with which to submerge the plot. If you’re a fan of high fantasy in any sense, you’ll probably love this aspect of the story, and though high-fantasy isn’t my favorite, I could at least appreciate the craft that went into this story because of these things.

So where did it fail? The narrative and its characters lacked soul. The characters didn’t engage me or even seem different from one another. I had no sense of who they were as people, and it made it very hard to get sucked into the story – because I love character-driven stories… and that isn’t what this was. I only got to about chapter 8 before I set the book aside, and I can’t imagine how the romance in this book will even develop given how the characters were written.

I think this is one of those stories that would excel if put to screen – where the visual aspects push the story forward…. But I didn’t enjoy how it was written. It didn’t help that the author kept head-hopping between what I can only assume were the two main characters (they didn’t stick out, so I can’t be sure). It felt as if the characters were there only as a vehicle to the plot, rather than a part of it.

Although this book wasn’t for me, I don’t think it was a bad book – simply not what I was looking for. If you like high fantasy with complicated world-building, I think you’d enjoy this book, regardless of how I felt about it.

Free Fiction Friday #246

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 Romance!

THE FREE

fff1fff2fff3fff4fff5fff6fff7fff8fff9fff10

THE BARGAINS

bar1bar2bar3bar4bar5

Book Review: The Viscount Made Me Do It

review-the viscount made me do itTitle: The Viscount Made Me Do It [Clandestine Affairs 2]

Author: Diana Quincy

Genre: Historical, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

A seduction that could ruin everything…

Hanna Zaydan has fought to become London’s finest bonesetter, but her darkly appealing new patient threatens to destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. With each appointment, the daughter of foreign merchants is slowly seduced by the mysterious former soldier. She’s smart enough to know Griff is after more than he’ll reveal, but whatever it is, the bonesetter’s growing desire for the man just might tempt her to give it to him.

An attraction that cannot be denied…

Rumors that he killed his own parents have followed Thomas Ellis, Viscount Griffin, practically since he was a boy. More than a decade after the tragedy, Griff receives a tip about his parents’ killer… one that takes him straight to a beautiful bonesetter. Griff is convinced Hanna is a fraud, but she stirs genuine feelings in him that he thought had perished along with his family.

Hanna has a gift for fixing fractured people, but can she also mend a broken heart? More importantly, will Griff let her?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I debated with myself for a bit on what to rate this book – it wasn’t an easy answer. I read an early review copy, so there were a few rather unremarkable editing errors – but nothing too obtrusive. For the most part, the writing was easy to follow and flowed well. I liked the characters and the overall plot, and the romance was steamy.

So why 4 stars rather than 5?

There were some bits to this story that were written… oddly, I guess that is the way to put it. It’s rather hard to explain, but one example would be how the 26-year-old main female lead had no idea what sex entailed or what orgasms were. I mean, I understand that she was an untouched spinster at that point… but she was also a medical professional… and let’s be honest, at 26, you know things, even if you have no first-hand experience. It was weird how the author showcased this.

In addition to this, the romance between the two main characters waffled quite a bit. One second they hated each other, then they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.. Then they were denying their passion, then they were all over each other again – which is all well and good, except the switches sometimes seemed to come out of nowhere.

Overall, I liked the book. I enjoyed reading it, and I think if you like Historical Romance, this is a pretty good one.

Book Review: Avoiding Alpha

review-avoiding alphaTitle: Avoiding Alpha [Alpha Girl 2]

Author: Aileen Erin

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Rating: 4 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Tessa McCaide has come a long way since her abrupt entrance into the world of werewolves, but she still has just as far to go before she’s comfortable with turning full wolf. In the meantime, she’s avoiding the topic of shifting to four legs any way she can. Thankfully her mate, Dastien Laurent, is quite the distraction.

When she finds her best friend, Meredith, getting sick in the bathroom, Tessa knows something’s majorly wrong. Meredith was cursed years ago, and the dark magic kept her wolf dormant—only now the wolf is awake, and that same spell is killing her.

Tessa has no intention of sitting around while Meredith wastes away. Even if it means playing with magic she doesn’t understand, she’ll do anything to save Meredith’s life. Including bargaining with the local coven of witches and its crazed leader, whose only goal is getting Tessa to join the witchy ranks.

Can Tessa save her friend without losing herself?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I thoroughly enjoyed this continuation of Tess and Dastien’s story. Like the first book in the series, this book was well written – the narrative flowed easily, it was engaging, and there weren’t any obvious technical errors. I loved the characters just as much as the first book, and they seemed more at ease with each other. I particularly liked the inclusion of more of the Bruja side of Tessa’s lineage.

So why 4 stars instead of 5?

The book felt significantly shorter than the first. I sped through it so quickly that by chapter 8 I was more than halfway through. It almost felt like an episode of a TV show – there was one main story arc, which they solved pretty quickly, and then the story was done. I think it would have benefited the book to have a few more subplots woven in.

That aside, the book was great. It’s definitely an easy read, meant for Young Adults, but it didn’t feel as angsty as the first book.

Book Review: Becoming Alpha

review-becoming alphaTitle: Becoming Alpha [Alpha Girl 1]

Author: Aileen Erin

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Tessa McCaide has a unique talent for getting into trouble. Then again, it isn’t easy for a girl with psychic visions to ignore what she sees. Luckily Tessa and her family are leaving California and moving halfway across the country, giving her the perfect opportunity to leave her reputation as “Freaky Tessa” behind.

But Tessa doesn’t realize that kissing the wrong guy in her new Texas town could land her in far more trouble than she ever imagined. Like being forced to attend St. Ailbe’s Academy, a secret boarding school for werewolves.

Even if the wrong guy did accidentally turn her into a shapeshifter and doom her to attending the weirdest high school ever, Tessa can’t help her growing attraction to the mysterious Dastien Laurent.

When vampires attack St. Ailbe’s and her visions pinpoint an enemy in their midst, Tessa realizes that boy drama and her newfound canine tendencies might just be the least of her problems.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I liked Becoming Alpha by Aileen Erin more than I thought I would. I don’t know what I expected – I picked it up as an easy book, a bit of a break from my current TBR, so I wasn’t expecting much… but as it turned out, I liked it quite a bit. It wasn’t a perfect book, I won’t lie. It’s a Young Adult Paranormal Romance, and as most books in that genre can sometimes be, there was a lot of drama and angst and misunderstandings, but that’s kind of par for the course.

Regardless, the book was easy to sink into. It was well written – I only found one typo – and the narrative flowed easily. I loved the characters, even Imogen. Okay, maybe not Imogen. The lore was slightly different than what I’ve read in similar books – especially when it came to the vampires, and it was a bit of a fun twist to see it handled in a new way. I enjoyed the tug and pull of Tess and Dastien’s relationship especially.

Overall, I think if you like YA Paranormal Romance reads, you’re most likely going to enjoy this one. I’m excited to read more from this author in the near future.

Book Review: Breeder

review-breederTitle: Breeder

Author: Honni Van Rijswijk

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse–they’re born into debt and can only accrue units through reproduction.

Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs–and people–are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.

Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m going to be honest… I found it extremely difficult to get through this book. In fact, I dropped it at 56% in. The book had an interesting concept and some well-thought-out world-building that I enjoyed, but that’s about where my praise ends.

The opening narrative was stilted and a bit confusing. There was lots of back-telling, poor grammar, a break in the 4th wall that seemed unintentional, and worse, the book was written in present tense… which is just… the worst. I disliked the narrative voice and because the writing was so disjointed and choppy, it was hard to like the characters, let alone empathize with them.

It felt like I was reading a book from the point of view of an alien, pretending to be a human, who had never actually met a human. It was… off and choppy. I didn’t feel engaged or sucked into the story, and I figured out the big “reveal” about the main character before the first three chapters were up.

There are going to be readers out there that appreciate this book for the world-building and the plot – because those things were really well done…. But I appreciate the narrative flow of a book, the atmosphere, and the human struggle – and this book just absolutely butchered those.

Free Fiction Friday #244

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!

THE FREE

fff1fff2fff3fff4fff5fff6fff7fff8fff9fff10

THE BARGAINS

bar1bar2bar3bar4bar5

Book Review: The Gardener’s Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors

review-the gardener's guide to starting seeds indoorsTitle: The Gardener’s Guide To Starting Seeds Indoors For Self-Sufficient Backyard Homesteaders

Author: Elizabeth Grove

Genre: Non-Fiction, Gardening

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

So, you want to grow your garden from the start of the seed…

Perhaps, you have experience starting seeds outdoors but want to discover what it takes to start them indoors!

Or you are a complete beginner to gardening and want to learn from the start of the seed!

Or you are somewhere in between where you have gardening experience but have grown an interest in starting your plants from the seed!

Starting seeds is one of the most important skills to have in becoming more self-sufficient.

And let’s face it, who doesn’t want to start their gardens earlier?

Whether or not you have gardened before, if you have never grown plants from seeds, then that means you have to rely on someone else to get those plants; local stores, friends, etc.

This book will allow you to become 100% self-reliant in growing plants from seeds this season and all the years to come and have the most fun doing it!

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This was a little gem of a gardening book. I found it to be well formatted, easy to read, well organized, and it provided a ton of information on seed starting. An array of topics was covered, from starting seeds in window sills to using grow lights, hardening them off for the outdoors, and how much sun and water plants need to thrive. I’ll be honest, I don’t have much of a green thumb, and I’ve been struggling to get my seeds to survive past the first week, so I’m really excited to put this information to good use.

If you’re a budding gardener that is interested in growing your own food or even just flowers, I’d highly recommend picking up this book as a beginner’s primer.

Book Review: Beginner’s Guide To Preserving

review-beginner's guide to preservingTitle: Beginner’s Guide To Preserving

Author: Delilah Snell

Genre: Non-Fiction, Cookbook

Rating: 5 Stars

amazon1GoodreadsButton

Description/Synopsis:

Whether you’re a gardener, a hunter, or just a curious home cook, preserving food can be a practical way to produce a wide range of delicious flavors—from sweet and summery strawberry jam to spicy kimchi and savory smoked bacon.

The Beginner’s Guide to Preserving is packed with detailed information and beginner-friendly guidance for a variety of preservation methods, plus 65 flavorful recipes to put these techniques into action. Learn the essentials of food preservation, and get instructions for pressure and water bath canning, fermenting, dehydrating, salting, smoking, and freezing.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book did a fantastic job of being a fairly comprehensive guide to food preservation. The book contained a lot of information, tips, and recipes for an array of different types of foods. I liked that the book was easy to read, well-organized, and contained information on all of the different ways to preserve food, not just canning. I think the author did a spectacular job of being very thorough.

If you’re interested in preserving food, I would definitely recommend you pick this book up – I think it’s an invaluable resource to have on hand.

Free Fiction Friday #243

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: All of these books were released on Amazon in the past 90 days… because of this, they may not all meet my usual requirements of 40+ reviews. Use this opportunity to find some new authors and series!

THE FREE

fff1fff2fff3fff4fff5fff6fff7fff8fff9fff10

THE BARGAINS

bar1bar2bar3bar4bar5